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Q&A | Orange tree, school break, when I’ll graduate, and rental vs. home

First, lots of you had questions about my orange tree after I posted this picture of my sunny bedroom.

Kristen's bedroom.

So, let’s talk about that first! I got this orange tree as a gift several years ago, and miraculously, I haven’t killed it yet.

orange tree.

This is miraculous because:

a) I am not that good with plants


b) I live nowhere near Florida. Or California. Or any other normal orange-growing climate.

The only obvious conclusion is that this is an easy-to-grow tree.

three small oranges on a tree.

I leave it outside as long as the temps aren’t in the freezing range, which means I have to bring it inside for some months in the winter.

The orange tree has never been super happy about that, but then again, it had to live by the north windows at my old house.

At this house, it’s on the south side, so I’m hoping it will be a little healthier during the winter here. We shall see!

tree on a table.

And you might remember the table it’s sitting on! It’s an old Philco table that I rescued from the abandoned house; click here to see what it looked like before.

pink philco table.

Since it’s at the foot of my bed, here’s the view I see when I wake up:

orange tree at foot of bed.


As for what type of orange tree this is…I’m not positive, but I think it’s a Calamondin orange tree, and it produces very, very sour oranges. So, I pretty much never eat them; I just enjoy the cheerful orange color.

small sour orange.

Next up two, questions from Jana:

1. What is your cat’s name? Wait, is it Frugal Kitty? Frugal Cat? Fru?
2. How is it that you know you are going to nursing school? Did you get accepted before finishing all the prereqs? Just wondering how that works, and how you will remember all that you learned with that 8 month break. (Inquiring mind here. . .)


Haha, I like FC for Frugal Cat.

tuxedo cat sitting on the table.

When we adopted our cat, Lisey named her Shelley. But we basically never call her by her given name…the only time we hear that name is when we take her to the vet. 😉

Kristen with her cat.

Here at home, we call her any one of the 18 or so nicknames she has. Or sometimes we just call her The Cat.

Two: How do I know I’ll get into nursing school?

I got a really good score on the TEAS (basically like an SAT for health students), I have a 4.0 GPA, and I’ve taken all my prerequisites at my community college, which is also where I want to do the R.N. program.

All of those factors mean it is super, super likely that I will be accepted once I apply in the spring. I will basically fall over in shock if I am not accepted.

In terms of remembering things, I can tell you that I still remember a lot of what I learned in Bio 101, which I took two years ago (spring semester 2021). So, I’m not at all worried that I will forget everything in a mere 8 months.

chemistry papers.

I also don’t think my school is worried about it! They do require that your science courses be taken somewhat recently (if you took microbiology 20 years ago, you’d have to retake it), but there’s no rule about you having to go straight from your prereqs right into the nursing program.

I have worked hard in all my semesters to really understand the material (no last-minute cramming for me!), and I wonder if that is maybe what is helping me retain a lot of what I’ve learned.

Anatomy and Physiology textbook with a green cover.

In sum: I’m confident about getting into the nursing program, and I’m confident about my ability to remember what I’ve learned thus far.

How long will it be until you graduate?

-lots of readers

I am now done with EVERY SINGLE class I could possibly do before I start the nursing program, and I plan to join the R.N. program in the fall of 2023. It’s a two-year program, so I should graduate in the spring of 2025.

That seems like sort of a long time from now in some ways, but hey, I have already done four semesters of prerequisites! I can do another four semesters.


After those nursing questions, you might be wondering, “Kristen, why do you want to become a nurse?” Click here to see my answer.

(Funny enough, the first picture in that post shows my orange tree at my other house!)


And lastly, a reader emailed this to me:

I’m writing for a kind of crazy reason. Please don’t take this as a criticism but more as food for thought. You keep referring to your rental as your rental.  In reality, it is your home. For now. A friend of mine always has talked about her home, not her house. At first, it seemed odd to me but over time I began to see the difference. Home is our safe place, a place where we live, share time with friends and family (and our cats) and so on. 
I know you have gone thru so many struggles and hard times this past year or so.  And, I know how much you long for your house and other home.  You have created a wonderful home for you and the girls.  While it might now be permanant, it is home now.
And I wanted to say that I totally agree with this reader. I really do look at my rental as my home, and it’s very important to me to settle in here thoroughly, even though it is a temporary home for us.
stockings hanging by a fireplace.
The actual reason I refer to this as “my rental” is that I’m trying to clarify which house I am referring to when I’m writing. I have my rental house, which I live in, and my old house, which I still own but do not live in.
dining room with two windows
In real life, I almost never refer to this house as “my rental”; it’s more that I do that online. For instance, I say to Lisey, “When will you be home?” or if I am out somewhere, I text the girls and say, “I’m on my way home.”
So yes, I definitely do think of this rental house as my home. I’m just in a weird in-between place with home ownership right now, and hopefully, at some point in the next year, that’ll change.


And that’s it for this round of Q&A!

Questions? Comments? Have at it!

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suellen roley

Saturday 24th of December 2022

I get rather sad sometimes about the fact that the 'homes' I grew up in or lived in as a young adult have all been sold, or were apartments to begin with. I inherited the home I live in from my father, and it is HOME....but so were all the other places.

My current kitty is Percy, Percy Cat, Percette, get down you little brat LOL etc. He is 16+ years old and I've had him since 2008. There was a LONG adjustment period as I'm pretty sure he'd been abused before I adopted him AND he hadn't been fully neutered either so there was a lovely spraying issue (me, my bed, my recliner, the other cat, etc). Got him fully fixed and he turned into one of the sweetest cats I've ever had.

I keep considering a MFA or a MBA (my BS is Business/Economics, my AS is Hotel Restaurant Management but my heart is a writer!!) Right now I'm working 72!! hours a week so school is on the back burner.

Grateful that our bout of VERY COLD weather (ie 5 or 6 degrees for the HIGH temp) is over. Still snowy and cold, but 41 (today's high) is much better than 5 or 6.

Even more grateful that I was able to replace the heat pump about a month ago -- the old one (and by that I mean 22-24 years old. way out of warranty, repairs would not have been guaranteed) died last winter, and space heaters/wood stove only went so far.

And even more more more grateful for the physically demanding BUT well paying job that allowed me to replace the heat pump.

Ohio Farmwife

Friday 23rd of December 2022

Kristen, don't let those oranges go to waste! They make a delicious pie. I have not made in a long time because I no longer have access to this kind of tree, but here's the recipe we used: Calamondin Pie 1 large/reg size graham cracker pie crust 1/2 cup calamondin juice 1 can sweetened condensed milk 1- 8 oz Cool Whip topping, thawed

Combine juice and milk. Fold in Cool Whip. Pour into crust. Chill. ENJOY! Squeeze and freeze the juice in 1/2 cup amounts. Then you can thaw for the next pie. Merry Christmas!


Monday 19th of December 2022

Kristen, thank you for addressing my questions! 1. "The Cat" works, especially because of nicknames. We have a tailless ginger named Pippin, AKA Pip and Orange Bob Square Pants. 2. Your rental home is so beautiful. It looks like a great place of refuge and comfort. 3. When I hear young adults say that they "moved back home", I want to say, "Nope. You moved to your PARENTS' HOME. It ain't yours, Toots!" 4. Nursing school would be foolish to not accept you! It sounds as if your college program is nowhere near as impacted as here in California. 5. Lots of great suggestions in the comments regarding use of those oranges. 6. Selfishly, I am a bit worried that you will be too busy to blog when you are actually in nursing school. Your blog has become my favorite go-to, a comfortable place on the World Wide Web.


Tuesday 20th of December 2022

@Kristen, I'm sorry for the dual comments. Feel free to delete one! You are right about where your parents living feeling like home. After my dad died and my mom moved, I began only using "home" to mean the place where my husband and I reside.

Thank you for the reassurance about #6. Maybe you will do like I do, which is write a bunch of posts and schedule ahead. (Maybe you already do that!)


Monday 19th of December 2022

#3: Whenever my dad would go back to South Dakota to see his parents, he would say, "I'm going home to visit the folks." I think wherever your parents live always feels like home to some people!

Regarding #6: The fact that I managed to keep blogging this last semester makes me think I will be ok to keep blogging during nursing school.


Monday 19th of December 2022

Kristen, thank you for satisfying my curiosity! 1. When I hear young adults say, "I'm living at home again", I want to say, "Nope, you are living in your parents' home again because it ain't yours, Toots." 2. Your rental is so beautiful. You have done a wonderful job of making it a place of comfort and refuge. 3. "The Cat" works, especially with all the nicknames. We have a tailless ginger cat named Pippin, who gets called "Pipsqueak" and "Orange Bob Square Pants". 4. Sounds as if getting into nursing school is fairly certain. They'd be foolish to not let you in! 5. There are some great suggestions for using those sour oranges in the comments. 6. Selfishly, I am worried that you will be too busy to blog once school starts up again for you. Your blog has become my favorite one to follow, and you feel like a friend I just haven't met yet.


Monday 19th of December 2022

Just a good way to use your cute sour oranges: make orange-ade! Add sugar and water (or make sugar syrup) like you would if it were lemons or limes!

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