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The Good The Bad & The Ugly

Roommates. Unless we are very very lucky we have all had them. Whether you share a room or house, live with 9 other college kids or are sticking it out with the parents for a while, the people you live with can sometimes make or break a living situation.

For most college students we have had the distinct pleasure, nay the privilege, to encounter roomies who run the gamut from good, bad, and (shudder) U.G.L.Y. (Useless Gross Loathsome Youths). Freshman year roomies are especially significant because they mark most college students first time living away from the family structure safety nest.

For some this new found freedom means you cling to each other like monkeys (at least a first), becoming a surrogate family and make lifelong bonds with your first year roomies.

But for many, freshman year means your are either living with “probably the worst person on the face of the earth”. Or, you know… YOU are the worst person on the face of the earth. And I mean I think it’s natural that a lot of people go through a bit of a jerk-face phase with our roommates when we first stop living with mom and dad. But, past freshman year, there really is no excuse.The Kids that don’t get out of the jerk-face phase? Those are the U.G.L.Y.s.

But, whether you are living in dorms, a house with long times friends, an apartment with strangers, or back home over the summer or next fall, here are some Roomie Do’s and Don’ts to help you make it through!

Do:

  • Be Awesome: Everyone loves Awesome people. Just don’t brag about said awesomeness, people don’t love that quite as much.
  • Be Yourself: It’s tiring to walk around the house all day in a snow-suit when you are the only one who is cold during Snowpocalypse. It is also hard to constantly root for a football team you hate because you thought it would be fun to watch the game together that one time, pretend you like going out every night of the week when you really just want to watch some trash tv and go to bed, or pretend you like eggplant and are fasting when it’s cooked for dinner when in fact it actually makes you gag.
  • Communicate: There’s no such thing as talking to much. And when you hate eggplant you need a forum to let people know dammit!
  • Make Time Together… But Not Too Much: Some people really love their roomies when they first move in and spend every waking moment together, signing up for the same classes, dating identical twins, etc etc. But too much together time can get to be friend overload. This is especially sensitive for roommates because you don’t have separate spaces to go to at the end of the day. It’s great to bond and make time for each other. Just make sure that roomie time does not extend to 24/7
  • Try To Be Understanding- Especially When That Seems Hard: Many people have struggled with the “probably the worst person in the world” roommate only to meet up with them again randomly the following year and realize that they are really awesome people, becoming good friends post initial year of hate. Maybe they were just going crazy from too much freedom? Maybe they had something going on in their personal life? Maybe they had an undiagnosed issue and really needed the meds that are on now? All I know is that you never know when you might need to call that old roomie you loathed but who became a doctor when you need some free medical advice.

Don’t:

  • Be A Jerk: If you are a jerk people are jerks back. You do not want to be one of these kids. or one of these. or these.  oooh, there’s more. And more. Really, I could probs never end this game.
  • Be Afraid to Talk to Your Roommates: You’ll feel better when you do.
  • Be Afraid to Move Out: Some people will just suck. There are also just some people who you will never be able to live with, people who should never make anyone else live with them because they are just that horrible, and people who the aggravation of living with is just more than a cut in rent is worth. Move out! Become FREE!

Have any stories of roommate craziness out there? Please share!

Good Luck. It’s a jungle out there.

P.s. DO! humor your favorite roommate when she makes you pose for pictures on her blog. Kthanks.

I Told Them To Pretend They Were Cold... They are great sports.

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Moe? What Time Will Dinner Be Ready? Ridiculously Easy Red Beans and Rice

Ridiculously Easy Red Beans & Rice

A Vegan Twist on a Nawlins Classic

* Inspiration: I found the weirdest thing in a kitchen cabinet the other day… TVP! 

TVP stands for Textured Vegetable Protein and is basically dehydrated defatted soy flour and is a good meat substitute because it has no fat. I had never cooked with TVP before but it caught my eye at the grocery store and i decided to give it a whirl. It ended up being a really easy and pretty delicious new house fave!

Since I had never cooked with TVP before I decided to check out the Bob’s Red Mill website for some recipe help and this Red Beans and Rice recipe was my inspiration.

Here is my limited-college-kid-kitchen version:

What You Need:

  • 2 Cans of any kind of beans you want (they dont actually have to be red- I went with Kidney Beans)
  • I Onion
  • 2 Medium Tomatoes
  • 6 Cloves of Garlic
  • 3 Cups of Water
  • 2 Cups of TVP
  • 1 Tbsp. Cumin
  • Cayenne Pepper To Taste
  • Red Pepper Flakes To Taste
  • Cajun Seasonings
  • 2 Cups Brown Rice

The Cooking:

  1. Dice the Onion, Tomatoes, and Garlic while bringing water to a boil. After the water reaches a rolling boil, add the diced veggies and let boil until tender.
  2. In a separate pot begin cooking your rice.
  3. Reduce heat and add Beans, TVP, and Seasonings. Cook for about 15 min.
  4. Mix cooked rice and beans together

DINNER IS READY!

All You Ever Wanted to Know About Co-Op Living!

I have to begin by apologizing for posting late (eek!) and say thank you (yes you!) so much for submitting questions!

In the previous post I promised to answer your questions on Tuesday but, sadly, Tuesday came and went and I was just too buried in school work to be punctual :/

But without further ado, lets dive right into your questions!

1. Whose dinners do you look forward to?

This was a tough one because everyone who lives in my house has really surprised me with their culinary skills. And we all cook very different things! So I have to say that I look forward to dinner no matter who is cooking. Even when it’s my night to cook I look forward to it because it is always a learning experience.

2. What is the downside to living in a co-op? Does it feel like a frat/ sorority?

The downside of living in a co-op would be changing your schedule a lot when you first move in. When the year first started it was a little daunting to go from planning my life around my own things to planning with all my housemates. Now it seems like second nature but it was def an adjustment getting used to being home weeknights for house dinners and Sundays for pot lucks and house meetings.

I think it doesn’t feel like a frat or sorority but I have never lived in a sorority so… idk?

3. What is your favorite Mad Ox memory?

In the interest of full disclosure I have to admit that I have a terrible memory. But my favorite memory this week was Dinner time on Monday night.

We decided to do a left overs night for dinner and we also decided to double dinner time with the house meeting. I think I was running a little bit late because everyone was already sitting around the table and I was cooking up some dinner concoction on the stove.

This was when it had first started to get super hot and we hadn’t turned on the A/C yet so I was ROASTING from the heat coming off the stove. And of course as I sat down to the table to enjoy my food I smothered my piping hot meal in salsa (I am known to put salsa on basically anything and everything).

So I’m sitting at the table sweating from the heat in the house, the heat from the stove still, and the heat of my spicy food too and we are all sitting around the table shouting about god knows what, arguing (about basically anything and everything) across the table, and making fun of each other.

Something about that just warms my heart 🙂

4. What were the biggest conflicts you had with other people?

Well, I think we have been really lucky that we all get along pretty well, especially considering the fact that none of us were friends before we moved in. The biggest issue we have come across has definitely been deciding how to shop for food. We typically share everything and pay for our food as a group. However this gets complicated due to dietary restrictions (vegetarians), issues of food justice (free range and fair trade products), health concerns (no msg, no partially hydrogenated oils), and general dislikes (ewwww mushrooms!). I think between the 5 of us we have easily logged at least 3 days worth of intense convos about the products we purchase and it is something we continue to discuss and prefect as time goes on.

5. Did you learn any interesting cooking tips?

One of the biggest things I’ve learned through this experience has been that cooking doesn’t always have to be an exact science. Sometimes you deviate from the recipe and it sucks but other times you improve on the recipe by accident. It’s always fun to experiment with different spices too! Don’t be afraid of using new spices and flavors.

6.How did you find out about co-op housing?

I found out about co-op housing because, luckily, a bunch of people who were friends of friends of mine were involved with getting the co-op movement started here and forming CHUM (Co-op Housing University of Maryland). I also knew the founder of CHUM, and remember hearing her speak about co-op housing at a meeting of one of the other student organizations I was involved with.

7. If money was not an issue would you still do co-op housing or another form of off campus housing?

Yes! A million times yes, I would most certainly do co-op housing even if money was not an issue. I’m a huge fan of the sense of community involved with co-op housing. I love being close with my roommates and all the people who live in the other houses as well. It’s a great little community within a community.

8. How is a co-op different from just renting a room in a house?

For me this definitely goes back to the idea of a community. When moving into the co-op, members sign a membership contract. Membership within the co-op hinges on following some general guidelines such as a commitment to the cooperative lifestyle, agreeing to attend as many co-op functions as possible, and having dinner with your housemates at least 3 times a week, to name a few.

The expectations for living in the co-op are that everyone will put an equal amount of work (through cooking and cleaning) and time  (attending house events and meetings) into both their house and the co-op organization as a whole. This means getting involved in committees and attending CHUM general body meetings.

In renting a room in a house there are not always these same explicit expectations and there is not that same community of multiple houses under one organization.

9. What’s the most challenging part of co-op living?

At this very moment the biggest challenge of co-op living that I can think of is leaving it. After living cooperatively for about 9 months now I’m really used to living in a co-op and I honestly don’t remember any negative things from when we were first starting out. But now that I am so used to living with my housemates and living the way that we do, it is very hard to imagine… not. lol

10. How are newly started co-ops different from established ones?

Awesome mural in one of the University of Michigan Anne Arbor Co-op Houses

This is actually a really exciting question. In November we had the opportunity to go to a NASCO (North American Students of Cooperation) conference at the University of Michigan Anne Arbor. Co-ops have been around at Michigan since the 1930s!!! So they have a huge and powerful legacy on that campus. They are very well-organized and have a ton of longstanding traditions.

But being a part of a baby co-op like CHUM is very exciting because you are the one (hopefully) planting the seeds that will one day become a mammoth presence on campus and starting traditions that the next generation will (hopefully) hold onto. It’s super exciting but also really intimidating. But, having stayed at one of the Anne Arbor co-op houses for a few days, I can safely say the experience from established co-op to new co-op is mind-boggling different!

***

Thanks again to everyone who submitted a question! I got a huge kick out of answering your questions and I hope you enjoy my answers just as much!

Any other burning questions out there? Feel free to ask any time!

xoxooxo

Moe

You’ve Got Questions?

I’ve got answers!

If any lovely readers out there have a questions about co-op housing, cooperative living,  or even what my experiences as a part of the University of Maryland’s test run with cooperative housing has been like… Ask Me!

Anyone with a question, no matter how big or small, day to day stuff or lifestyle stuff, please submit your question in the comments section or email me at mrthomps@umd.edu

Thank youuuuuuu!

xoxooxooxxo

Moe

p.s. Stay tuned for the answers post on April 26th!

The Great Debate aka The Door

Aka The Great Door Debate 2011

In my house, we have a meeting once a week, ideally on Sunday, usually some time early in the week depending on our schedules. Last week, being the hectic mess that was the week after spring break and all of us reuniting post being sent to different ends of the earth, we slacked big time and never got a meeting organized. So this week we were all fiending for a house meeting.

As usual we started with the boring stuff like planning our meals for the week. But then we moved on to the juicy stuff. And this is why I love meetings.

Jk Jk. It’s nothing too juicy, but we use this time to talk about any gripes, issues, worries, etc. affecting the house. I love having a structured and specific time to air issues that I’m having. If someone has been getting on my nerves because they do dishes like they never saw a sponge before and it’s driving me to the point where I want to either pull my hair out or hit them in the same dirty sponge they obviously don’t know how to use, I take a HUGE amount of comfort in knowing that soon I will have a golden opportunity to address the house dish/sponge habits (and probs be vindicated in knowing that other people are bothered by the same or similar things)*.

At this particular meeting no one had any silly sponge-like gripes because, to be perfectly honest, the separation over spring break had come at just the right time to get us all off of each others backs. But, this is not to say we didn’t have other fish to fry.

We have been having a now longstanding debate over… Drum roll please… Locking the door.

Yes, believe it or not, locking the door (really the door in general has been a huge issue of contention for us). I hear you out there, sitting at your computer, rolling your eyes (yes I hear eye rolling), and saying- Moe. Really? Locking the door is your big debate?

Yes. Yes it is.

In our defense, our front door is not like any ordinary door. You pull up instead of down to get yourself out of the house (a lot of poor souls have acted a fool trying to exit our humble abode). And too often the door gets caught on the shoe mat and you have to put a foot up on the door frame for leverage and yank it with all your might to get that thing closed.

But the debate really boils down to… When do we lock the door?

Is it:

a) Whenever you enter or exit the house?

b) When no one is downstairs?

c) Only after 9pm?

d) None of the above?!?!?!?

The debate has only intensified over the last few days as there have been a spattering of days in which various housemates have been confronted with doors left wide open for unknown time spans during the wee hours of the night.

We are dying here. To live in a world of constant door locking neurosis or a world of abandon in which no bolts are closed? What’s a co-op house to do?

* This was a really ridiculous example of a gripe so don’t judge us on it! Roomies, I have not been harboring a secret resentment about your sponge habits.

note to possible house thieves: we are in a state of lock down now, so no more golden opportunities to steal our chore wheel and delish leftovers. thankssssss

Moe? What Time Will Dinner Be Ready? OmNomNom Red Lentil Stew

OmNomNom Red Lentil Stew

Vegan Red Lentil Stew packed with delish veggies and EXPLODING with flavor!

* For this recipe i actually consulted a cook book (gasp! shocker, I know). The real recipe came from the AMAZING book Vegan A Go-Go by the SPECTACULAR Sarah Kramer (my vegan cooking idol).

Unforch, being a college kid/ novice in the kitchen/ not properly prepared we didn’t have half of the things the recipe called for. So below find my interpretation of Kramers “Cauliflower Red Lentil Soup”. And if you’re feeling brave I DARE YOU to tackle this delish dish and make it your own too!

What You Need:

  • 1 Medium Onion
  • 1 tbsp Oil
  • 3 tbsp fresh ginger
  • 4 garlic cloves
  • 2 tsp Ground Cumin
  • 2 tsp Red Pepper Flakes
  • 2 tsp Turmeric
  • 4 1/2 cups veggie stock
  • 4 cups Assorted Veggies (I used a frozen mixture of broccoli, cauliflower, & red and yellow carrots)
  • 2 medium Tomatoes
  • 1 bag Dry Red Lentils

The Cooking:

  1. Dice Onion, Tomatoes, and Garlic and grate the ginger. Pre cook veggies until a bit tender but do not let them become overly soft.
  2. In a large pot on medium heat combine oil and onion. Heat onion until it becomes translucent.
  3. Add ginger, garlic, cumin, rep pepper flakes, and turmeric. Cook for about 2 minutes, stirring constantly so that the mixture does not stick.
  4. Add the veggie stock, veggies, tomatoes, and lentils. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and cover. Cook for about 25 minutes or until lentils and veggies are adequately cooked.
  5. Remove from heat and let sit for about 5 minutes before serving.

DINNER IS READY!

Roommate Fail

Today, I am ashamed to admit, I committed the ultimate cooperative roomie fail.

After arriving home this morning around 3 am from spring break adventures that left me more exhausted then relaxed, waking up for class resulted in a less than chipper Moe.

I proceeded to a) hide in my room to avoid everyone else and b) when I finally had to show my face I did my best to avoid eye contact/ inane morning chatter with TheManOftheHouse despite his best efforts and intentions.

Ugh. Guilty conscience… but I think he didn’t really mind because my fake smiling skills totally faked him out. Luckily some things always make me smile.