Archive | December, 2014

2014 in Review

30 Dec

Thanks for a great year! We’re looking forward to bringing you even more content in 2015!

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2014 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

The concert hall at the Sydney Opera House holds 2,700 people. This blog was viewed about 13,000 times in 2014. If it were a concert at Sydney Opera House, it would take about 5 sold-out performances for that many people to see it.

Click here to see the complete report.

Celebrating the New Year Without Dropping the Ball

29 Dec

Written by: Purdue Student

Cats laying on treadmill saying: New Year's Resolution...More time on Treadmill

Ah, New Year’s Eve. I have found, in my many years of attempting to celebrate special occasions such as this and failing miserably once I realized that it requires actual effort and time, that these days are a lot easier and more fun when I dare not step from my comfort zone.  And I’m sure many of you have experienced something similar when it comes to celebrating this or any other holiday.

When I was young, my family celebrated New Year’s with some local relatives (with the children pretending to get drunk on sparkling grape juice!). However, due to everyone growing up and moving down their own paths, this tradition has crumbled and we’re left hoping for just one more celebration all together again.

Like I said, NYE for me is a family affair, and as we’ve grown older there are new obstacles facing this attempt to celebrate:

-Baby niece is now in the picture so midnight cheers are suddenly not okay

-Most siblings are working long hours and fall asleep on the couch, the floor, the dog, by 10pm

-Younger brothers are a little too into the celebration and insist on continuing the sparkling grape juice fiascos of New Years Eves past

-Lastly, my darling fiance insisted on our anniversary being New Year’s Eve so… we can do nothing! (I am beginning to wonder if that was his     intent…)

My personal dilemmas may be something you (and your family or friends) can relate to as you all grow older and more apart, but there are other, more general dilemmas that I feel everyone can relate to.

For example, the crowds. The crowds on New Year’s Eve prevent my family from even going to Applebee’s for a nice dinner because everyone else and their distant cousin four times removed has decided that this is the best day for a family reunion!

For a while, I felt defeated. But then last year, my resolution was to celebrate New Year’s Eve in the same intimate way that I did when I was a kid; with food and a T.V. (preferably one so old that its speakers keep going in an out and make the broadcasters sound like dubstep wannabes).

I begin, as I always do, with food. Secondarily, after realizing every time this is not a good place to start, I start over with the location. In this case, my family home is the best location, it may not be ideal, because there’s little space and my family is, well…themselves, and baby niece is may be a little too comfortable here as is evident by her constant babbling just to make noise, but it is home and we don’t have to deal with crowds.

Once you’ve figured out the two most important things (food and location), then you need to figure out the following:

New Years Eve, Bring It OnStep One: Figure out who is going to contribute/pay for things because you may have to call out favors if you’re not able to foot the whole bill yourself (feeding people gets expensive!).

Step Two: Be thrifty. When I say thrifty, I also mean simple. There are tons of easy snack recipes out there and pizza for dinner is something no one will complain about.

Step Three: Decorations and favors. This part is important because it makes the difference between just lazing at your parents’/friends’ house and having a suitable party. I recruit my brothers to help with this part, which makes it the most time-consuming because brothers make everything a distracting process.

Step Four: Make and share New Year’s Resolutions that actually count. What I mean here is that these resolutions should reflect on how you’ve grown as a person in the last year and what you would like to do differently or perhaps continue doing. I find that these have the most worth and that it is always easier when you do it as a group activity.

Step Five: Surround yourself with people you want to be around. There is no reason to force yourself into uncomfortable situations (like big parties or crowds for me) with people you do not enjoy at any other point in the year. Especially as you grow older, life becomes more hectic and you’ll feel like you are sacrificing your own well-being for the sake of people you do not hold dear. For 2015, embrace who you truly love and start working on lasting relationships.

Inexpensive Ways to Celebrate the Holidays

22 Dec

 Raysha Duncan, Financial Aid Administrator & Purdue Alumna

Wanting to celebrate and spread some holiday cheer but don’t want to break the bank doing it? Holidays are all about spending time with family and giving back, so there’s really no reason to have to spend a lot! I’ve listed some ideas of free/inexpensive holiday activities below.

Christmas Tree: text overlay An Inexpensive Holiday

Send Cards to Soldiers

Holiday Mail for Soldiers is a program run every year by the Red Cross in an effort to send some holiday cheer to those serving and protecting our country. What a great way to send holiday spirit to someone separated from their family at such a special time of the year! You can do this individually, with your family, or even with a club/organization on campus.

Scout Out the Best Lights

Some people go crazy with their Christmas lights! Pile your friends and family into a car and drive around enjoying the lights and try to find the house with the most dramatic lightshow production.

Help Decorate for the Holidays

Whether you buy a tiny fake tree with your roommates or help your parents pull down the menorah from the attic one weekend, that act of helping set up decorations is a great holiday memory. You don’t have to buy new decorations; you can pull out the old and go over your memories from holidays past or have a crafting session with your roommates to make new decorations and new memories.

Spend Time, Not $

What if you don’t buy presents this holiday season? What if instead, you do something special with each family member and friends you would normally buy a present for? These can be free or low-cost experiences. Maybe you’re back in town for the holidays and you have a friend who is obsessed with Starbucks seasonal peppermint mochas…why not take her out for one and catch up on your lives for a couple hours? The experience of the holiday season is what matters, not what you buy someone.

Go Caroling

So what if you don’t have the best voice? Any nursing home in town would love to see a bunch of new, young and/or cheery faces caroling down their halls. Get in the spirit! Gather friends, family, your sorority sisters, congregation, etc. It’s an experience you’ll never forget.

BAKE

Baking delicious treats is probably one of the most exciting things about the holidays. You can bake some for your family, friends, neighbors, the mailman, your favorite teachers from grade school, strangers…Everyone enjoys a few good treats in the winter! And don’t forget your friends with food allergies, they like treats too and taking the extra time to figure out how to make gluten-free brownies just might put your friends in a cheery mood during a tradition that tends to exclude them.

Food: The Perfect Gift to Give…and Receive!

15 Dec

Hannah Stewart, Purdue University Student and Peer Counselor

Yay for the Holidays! There is all the delicious food, the holiday cheer, the break from classes, and of course presents! While it’s always awesome getting presents, giving presents can sometimes be a little more challenging; no one said finding the perfect gift was easy! There are always cheap ideas on Pinterest. Goodwill and the Salvation Army always have really neat things too. On a more personal level though, one staple gift I always give is good food and a good time! We are college kids so money can be super tight. Personally, I never turn down free food. And you can always be sure it’s a gift people will actually use and enjoy.

Are you the most popular person on campus? While it’s wonderful having all of those friends, buying gifts for all of them could potentially put a strain on your budget. While some people choose to select only a few people to buy gifts for, others may want to be more inclusive. Cookies to the rescue! Cookies are great for several reasons. There are lots of different varieties, but most have the same basic ingredients, so making a bunch of different types isn’t too difficult. You can make very large batches fairly quickly. Personally, I couldn’t shop for 10 people in 2 hours, but I can make enough cookies in that time frame. Depending on the recipe, you can make even more than that! Getting a lot done in a short amount of time is always a great thing.

2 cupcakes on a plate: text overlay  Food: the perfect gift to give...and receive!

Another option: Host a Christmas dinner party. A well-cooked ham or turkey can feed several people. While there is a little more involved, a delicious entrée is just an oven and a couple hours away! People can get homesick and nothing quite compares to a well home cooked meal. You can also choose to have a potluck so others can get involved!  Plus, left overs are an added side bonus. So not only are you giving a great gift and having a good time with friends, now you have dinner or lunch made for a while.

Are you looking for something a little more personal and one-on-one? There is an old saying that a way to a person’s heart is through their stomach. Perhaps you can make a pie to start a conversation with that cute somebody, or a cake to go with that coffee date. Romantic dinner for two anyone? One of the great things about food is it’s versatile for large groups, or just a special someone.

If you’re still not sold, nothing quite gives parents the warm fuzzies like having a break. Offer to help with that big Christmas dinner, or even cook some dinners for them. There are several crock-pot recipes and dishes you can prepare the night before so that on Christmas morning, after all the gifts have been unwrapped, there is a hot delicious breakfast waiting. After all that excitement, who wouldn’t be famished?

Not all of us are fantastic cooks ( guilty, but I can follow a recipe). And for people out there who need some guidance, Pinterest, Google, and Food Network are great, free places to get recipes and ideas. So who knows, maybe you’ll even surprise yourself with a hidden gem. It could be a favorite family recipe that is about to be passed on to one more generation. Food is a great gift to give on the holidays. And nothing quite compares to seeing the happiness on another’s face when giving a gift.

Dorm Decor for the Holidays

8 Dec

Hannah Stewart, Purdue University Student and Peer Counselor

one unlit christmas light

Photo by: Juliancolton

Homesickness really does get the best of us sometimes. And as we get closer and closer to the holidays, sometimes it can feel a little, well, lonely. And even if we aren’t getting home sick, sometimes we just want more holiday cheer! Decorating your dorm room can be a great way to feel more festive and lift your spirits. It can also help relieve some of that homesickness. Decorations don’t need to leave you broke though, there are several ideas out there to decorate cheaply.

The residence halls don’t allow candles. But, scented things without a heating element like wall plug-ins are okay. Sometimes you can get really nice ones at places like Bath and Body Works, and then all you would need is refills. They last a really long time as well. Walking into a room that smells like fresh cinnamon apples in the fall or a sweet tropical smell near spring break really makes a person feel at home.

snowman door decoration

Photo via: solountip manualidades

You, or maybe your roommate, might have a mini fridge that could be decorated. Magnets are a fun and colorful way to create a cheerful environment. Magnets are just about everywhere! They go on sale in the bookstores, sometimes they are in the dollar section at Target, so just be on the lookout. You could be surprised with all the locations you can find magnets.

You know that loft bed that some of us in the dorms have? It’s pretty easy to hang decorations from under the bed. Ask your mom if she has a couple of extra ornaments she wouldn’t mind sparing and start hanging! Cut out some paper hearts and hang them under the bed for Valentine’s Day, or four leaf clovers for St. Patrick’s Day, really whatever you would like.

As a general rule, most dorms (and other places) won’t let you hang things from the ceiling as it can be a fire hazard, but if you don’t have a loft bed don’t fret. Command Strips to the rescue! Hanging things on the wall is also a great way to add visual appeal. Cut out any design you want and put it on display. Hanging items on the wall also means less clutter on your desk and more space to do other things. A pack of construction paper is not too expensive either so let your creativity show.

paper snowflakes on window

Photo by: littlerayovsun

Lights are always a plus! Nothing is quite as magical as those twinkling lights. If you have a roommate, it would be a good idea to ask their opinion, but who doesn’t like lights? Just get some of the indoor, or tree decorating kind, and use command strips to safely hang them on your walls. Sometimes people have extra lights in the house, so feel free to ask around before you buy. Even if you have to end up buying them, decorative/strand lighting is pretty inexpensive. For those of you who are really savvy, you can actually change out the bulbs on some the strands for different holidays and occasions. Most strands require just a pair of pliers to switch the bulbs.

When decorating for the holidays, it doesn’t need to break the bank. There are lots of options out there. Decorating for the holidays is fun, easy, and can be a great way to help with homesickness. And, what’s nice is that as the seasons and holidays change, so can the decorations. Besides, a change of pace can help you feel refreshed and spread the holiday cheer!

The Co$t of Having a Pet in College

1 Dec

Raysha Duncan, Financial Aid Administrator & Purdue Alumna
www.purdue.edu/mymoney

Tabby cat laying in front of door

Photo by: Raysha Duncan

I have always had pets in my life. And I didn’t realize how much having a pet in the house meant to me until I moved out and didn’t have a pet of my own. Two weeks into living away from my parents and all of their pets (none of them could be separated to come with me) I started craving a furry companion. I started thinking I wanted a dog, but then after considering (some) of the financial costs, I opted for a cat. Now, my cat turned to be an expensive little guy because of unexpected health issues (just my luck!) and I’ll be honest, I wasn’t financially savvy when picking out a pet. But, I’m going to share with you expenses you should take into consideration before impulsively getting a pet that will hopefully help you make the wisest financial choice.

dog laying on pink quilt

Photo by: Raysha Duncan

Initial Start-up Costs

Chances are you don’t have a spare kennel, litter box, litter, food, food bowls, toys, nail clippers, etc. just lying around. But, good for you if you do! Depending on what type of pet you get and what its living conditions will be (can it just roam freely or does it need to be kenneled/in a cage because it’s a rat or amphibian), your immediate expenses will vary drastically. Also, some apartment complexes and landlords have you put down an extra pet deposit (typically anywhere from $150-$300) and add additional charges to your rent each month per pet in your house. And you do have to report any pets you have since not doing so would be a violation of your lease and could potentially get you evicted.

Getting Your Pet

If you decide to a purebred Pomeranian, you’re going to be spending a LOT of money. It may be your dream doggie, but is that really how you should be spending your money during college? There are a few local shelters in our area and they have adorable, adoptable dogs. Other shelters have both cats and dogs that are available for adoption. There are many benefits to adopting a pet rather than buying a pet, but for the sake of this article we are going to talk about expense. Adopting a dog from Natalie’s Second Chance costs $125 for adult dogs and $150 for puppies, this fee includes spaying/neutering, up-to-date vaccines (except rabies), and a microchip. Getting all of these things done on your own (like I did) can cost upwards of $200 and that’s not even including an adoption fee! Almost Home Humane Society did not have prices for their adoptions listed on their website, but they also have an “adoption package” that provides things like spaying/neutering and up-to-date vaccines.

cat hiding under chair

Photo by: Raysha Duncan

Medical Expenses

Kittens and puppies are baby animals; and like baby humans they require vaccines. All pets need to be vaccinated young and then have yearly booster shots, this is essential to them staying healthy. Sometimes pets get sick, and unfortunately that comes with expenses as well. Emergency trips to the vet aren’t cheap, and you should remember that when deciding if you’re really going to be able to care for that adorable kitten at Pet Smart. And don’t forget treating them for fleas! It may seem expensive to buy their flea treatment every month, but flea prevention is much less expensive than flea extermination.

Time

No matter what type of pet you choose, taking care of that pet will require a lot of time and patience. Dogs need to be walked, potty trained, bathed, taken to the vet, crate trained, fed, and played with. Cats need trips to the vet, cleaned, litter boxes cleaned, and lots of attention. You can’t simply get an animal and expect it to take care of itself. And in college, do you really have the time you need to take care of a pet? To cover the expenses of a pet, you may need to pick up additional hours at work, but then when will you walk Fido? Getting a pet means you will have to work your schedule to include both your needs and theirs, while also having the funds to take care of both.  Maybe you have a roommate or significant other who would be willing to lend a hand in more stressful or urgent situations; but, the pet will become your responsibility, so you should make sure you have the proper time to care for it. (And if you’re going in with a friend or significant other for the pet, make sure you understand what’s expected from each of you before you bring your new friend home.)

2 cats sitting on stairs

Photo by: Madison Duncan

These are just a few tips to get you thinking about your choice in getting a pet. Having a pet is great and it teaches responsibility… But, it also costs money and you have to think about if you’ll be able to afford giving this pet the home it really deserves. If you’ve decided you really can’t afford a pet while you’re in college, one thing you can do is volunteer at either of the shelters listed above. This is a really good way to get the furry friend experience and you’ll be giving back to the community. Be sure and visit their websites for more information!

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