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Q&A | cinnamon, SIM, jeans, and grocery spending

Hi Kristen! I would like to ask, how do you freeze cinnamon bread? Do you bake it first? Pre-slice it? Do you have a post about how you freeze stuff? Thank you!


I do bake it first! I let it cool thoroughly, then put it in a plastic bag and stick it in the freezer.

sliced cinnamon bread.

If you have a smaller household, you could cut the loaf in half and freeze each half separately; that way you can just get out half a loaf when you want some cinnamon bread.

Also, you can slice the bread up before freezing it; that makes it very easy to grab just a slice or two.

If you have a chest freezer or other non-defrosting freezer, homemade bread can stay fresh for several months in its frozen state. In a self-defrosting freezer, though, I’d try to eat it up more quickly than that.

cinnamon bread cooling on a rack.

The repeated defrosting cycles tend to cause freezer burn on foods pretty quickly, so I try not to keep things in my kitchen freezer for long at all.

(Here’s my cinnamon bread recipe, in case you want to make some!)

cinnamon bread in progress.

Related: A post about freezing food in glass jars. And here’s a post about freezing food odds and ends.

I’ve seen you mention on your blog that you sometimes listen to your textbooks instead of reading them. Do your textbooks automatically come with an audio version, or do you use something to convert them? I’m an older adult in college also, and I would love to have the option to listen to the books I have to read.

Thank you!!

They do kind of come with an audio version. I have to buy the electronic version of all of my textbooks, since there are online assignments associated with them, and the online versions have an option to have the computer read to you.

It is a pretty terrible robotic voice, and I listen to it at 2x speed, which makes it even worse. But it DOES allow me to multi-task by combining a body task (walking, folding laundry, cleaning) with a head task (listening to textbook chapters).

I load my books into the Vital Source Bookshelf app on my phone and I listen through that app.

nursing school textbooks.

I try to use a variety of study methods to get the info stuck into my brain, and since this one requires no extra time on my part, I figure it’s worth keeping in my repertoire!

What is a sim lab?


So, at our nursing school, there’s a whole fake hospital wing, complete with a receptionist’s desk and patient rooms. The rooms look just like real hospital rooms, with IV poles, oxygen set up at the head of the hospital bed, and so on.

The beds sometimes have Manikins in them, which are fake patients that have heart sounds, breath sounds, blood pressure readings, wounds, etc. One of them can even give birth to a baby!

Kristen with a stethoscope.

However, sometimes the school hires real people to be actors for us, and those actors come in with a script and an assigned disease process and they don’t break character.

Anyway, for sim lab, we break into groups and we go in to take care of the Manikin or the actor, and our professors watch us on the video monitors to see how we do (and so do the student groups that aren’t currently taking a turn.)

Then we debrief with everyone, discussing what we did well and what we could do better the next time around.

It is a nice safe space to practice things, but of course, it does not compare to what you learn when you take care of actual people. And that’s why this semester I have two days of sim lab to start, but every week this semester from here on out, I have clinical days at the hospital.

Hospital time is where I’m going to seriously gain skills.

Kristen, I have a sewing question. I want to repair a pair of jeans. They are nearly ripped thru the inner thigh. I was planning to cut a patch from a ripped pair of no longer worn jeans and then hand sew it from the inside out. I don’t know how to use a sewing machine so hand sewing it is.

I’m wondering, though, about using an iron on patch instead and still sew a whip stitch all around it. Your thoughts? I’ve used the iron on patches before, and don’t think I was super impressed, but I probably didn’t do the whip stitch either. I believe that you did a recent post about this very thing, and you used jeans to repair Zoe’s jeans, hence my reaching out.


My experience with iron-on patches is that they are rather stiff, so I think having one of those on the inside of the thigh area on my jeans would result in scratching and chafing.

And this would be especially true if your jeans fit snugly on the thigh area.

inside patch on jeans.

I just keep a pair or two of old, worn-out jeans in my rag bag, and when I need to patch jeans, I cut a patch out of the old jeans. This way the patch is the right material, and since it’s been worn, it’s soft and flexible and doesn’t cause discomfort.

inside of jeans.

I’ve worn these jeans lots of times since this repair, and I don’t feel these patches at all!

As I said yesterday, I try to sew the patch on by mostly sewing over existing seams on the jeans; that way the patch is almost invisible.

jeans repair.

It occurred to me that your weekly totals seem to have a fairly regular average, so I looked back over the last few years. They’ve dropped about $40 since The Great Unpleasantness (~$150 to ~$110). Going from five to four people didn’t have a huge impact, and going from four to two (no Lisey or Sonia) had a pretty small impact. Do you have any insight into why that would be?

My wife and I tend to eat on the somewhat expensive side, but this makes me feel better about our per-person average than watching you feed five people on what seemed like about the same amount of overall spending as ours was doing a few years ago….


Wow, I am impressed by your dedication to this task! That’s probably more thorough than I would have been. Heh.

And I like your term, “The Great Unpleasantness”. I may adopt that. 😉

Aldi grocery cart.

A couple of thoughts that might explain the steadiness of my spending:

The price of groceries has gone up in recent years

I was definitely able to get more bang for my buck years ago as compared to now.

Teenagers/young adults don’t eat all their meals at home

I’m thinking particularly of Lisey; while she did live here with me for a good year, it’s not like she ate all of her meals here. I find that older kids tend to buy some of their own meals and they go out with friends, which means I don’t end up feeding them 3x day, 7 days a week.

So I’m not surprised that her leaving had a smaller impact than you’d expect.

Kristen and Lisey.

I am not trying as hard to save money on groceries as I used to

Back in the day, I definitely worked harder on my grocery spending than I do now.

I made more things from scratch, I purposely cooked and served cheaper foods, I bought fewer convenience foods, and I worked hard to find the lowest prices possible on what I bought.

But at this point in my life, I’m not prioritizing that as highly.

Now, I regularly stop in at Safeway (decidedly NOT the cheapest grocery store!), I buy my berries at Sam’s Club even though they might be cheaper elsewhere, I don’t make everything from scratch, I don’t spend a lot of time tracking prices, and so on.

My current main food goals:

  • eat nutritious food
  • eat at home the vast majority of the time
  • avoid food waste

If I spend $110/week for Zoe and me, that’s about $8/day/person, and considering that includes cleaning products/toiletries plus food, I feel pretty good about that.

Could I get it lower?


Do I have the mental space, time, and motivation to do that right now?

Nope. 😉

Good enough is good enough.

Thoughts? Further questions? Leave a comment. 🙂

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Thursday 7th of March 2024

I agree about the food budget - prices up and teens [and young adults] definitely don't eat all their meals at home! Thanks for the peek into nursing school life


Wednesday 6th of March 2024

Thank you for answering that food budget question. Your current priorities align with mine, and it’s encouraging to see them reflected in your blog, which I respect.

And now I know I need to keep a rag bag!


Wednesday 6th of March 2024

You do what works for you - over the years we've hired out work that we could do but our time was better spent on other things (which may or may not have been earning more money than hiring out cost us). And a big ick on the manikin that gives birth. Almost 45 years later I still think the woman who allowed herself to be filmed while giving birth needed a some serious psych help and meds (biology class). Sorry, I've been pregnant and given birth more than once. Is not and never will be in the best part of my life category. I agree - eating nutritious is the goal. Some "junk" food every now and then is okay. We all have our guilty pleasures.


Thursday 7th of March 2024

@WilliamB, lol.. if he sped it up enough I might have not been so appalled. These days, he'd likely be fired depending on the state in which he taught.


Wednesday 6th of March 2024

@Selena, My 9th grade bio teacher showed us a Cold War fallout shelter version of childbirth. He had it as film on reels and was a very funny man. Which is why he showed it backwards after, and also why he all thought he was amazing.

Martha C

Wednesday 6th of March 2024

My daughter is an actress and she has made good side money being a simulation patient! She did a lot of gigs in the sim lab. But once she had to be incognito in the ER to pose as a person with suicidal thoughts who was presenting with a different illness. No one knew except the ER director. The ER was judged on how quickly they figured out she was suicidal.

Fru-gal Lisa

Wednesday 6th of March 2024

Love the phrases "the great unpleasantness" and "good enough is good enough." I may adopt the latter as my mantra, and while I have not gone through a divorce, there are several events in my life that I can euphemistically term a great unpleasantness. (Here's looking at you, Roommate from Hell....and incompetent boss....and....)

Liz B.

Wednesday 6th of March 2024

@Fru-gal Lisa, Based on the stories you've told about the Roommate from Hell, I'd say that definitely fits as a Great Unpleasantness.

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