Monday, December 1, 2014

Finals, Feasts, and Family

Hello blog world! I figured it was about time for an update from the other sister. As Christmas creeps closer and closer, that also means it’s time for another semester to wrap up and for the dreaded final exam week to begin. For me this will mark 5 of 8 semesters completed! And for Meagan, this is it! She graduates in just two short weeks! We are so proud of all of the hard work she has put into becoming a nurse. Graduation post coming later!
{Watch out! She could be saving your life one day!}

Living 6+ hours away from home also means leaving the beautiful Smokey Mountains for a month to head back to west Tennessee. Cody and I are using every excuse and opportunity we can to soak up the mountain air! 

We drove across the border into NC to enjoy the views of Max Patch in Pisgah National Forest. We had the idea to sit up on the mountain and watch the sunset, but as you can see, there was still quite a bit of snow and as soon as the sun started to go down, we FROZE. So, we made a b-line for the car and the seat heaters. 

I also enjoyed my last Tennessee football game as a Junior! It’s so crazy how the years are flying by! 

Now that I have had a nice few days at home, it’s time to bunker down and blow my finals out of the water! Thanksgiving break was just enough of a teaser to make me extra homesick this week. Even though my break will consist of studying my brains out for the MCAT that is looming over my head like a dark cloud, there’s nothing better than being home with my family enjoying the holiday season! 

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

A Season of Survival & Blessings

Well hello there frozen friends {no literally, it's not going to break out above freezing today in Memphis},

I hope this are post finds you in a season of reflecting, a season of thankfulness and a full heart.
As the holidays quickly approach, I find myself reflecting with a heart that is bursting -
This past year has been so hard, nursing school has wrecked my life and made me into a new version of the adult I am growing into. The stress, the chaos - it's all coming to a close and I am so incredibly grateful to have walked through this journey & SURVIVED!

On a side note - It seems {through the Instagram world} that I am not the only one anticipating the holiday season - um hello twinkle lights all overwhelming my feed. I have already been so inspired by all of the pretty present ideas & delicious recipes for this season - you people are so creative!

Another area of my life that deserves a thankfulness shout out is my new little business. What seems like overnight, I have sold over 100 items locally and across the south. Wow! I cannot even keep up with posting things to my Etsy shop, so I have decided to keep a Facebook page up to date during this holiday gift giving season. It's so scary to put something out there that is an extension of yourself, your creativity & handiwork, an area that can easily be criticized or rejected but my customers have blessed my heart a thousand times over. I am so grateful that the Lord puts small things in my life such as this, things that make my heart smile.

Once again - Thank you for allowing me to use this space to pour out my heart whenever I want, I know it isn't consistent but that's what makes it wonderful!

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Ashley & I are both in a season of crazy - job applications & NCLEX prep for me, Junior year of college and MCAT prep for her. I have decided that FaceTime is the most incredible thing created for a family that is separated. BUT nothing can replace some face to face sister time and thankfully, we were able to meet up in Nashville last weekend. These six week stints with no visit are just far too long - we enjoyed the Nashville Farmers Market & some delicious pizza in the hotel room {a quirky family favorite}.

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Stay warm this week in the Artic Blast friends! Blessings.

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Fall Break 2014 II Cosby Campground

Have you been through one of those seasons in life where things, frankly everything, is just completely overwhelming? It’s not necessarily stress, just a sense of unrest. Well, that's where I am over here...

As  I draw closer to graduation, job applications, state boards and the unknown future, life is getting crazy - que relaxing weekend in the woods with my beautiful family! 

Fall break was welcomed this week and we ushered it in with camping and memory making - -

I have a love affair with the mountains. 
I could stay and never leave. 

Even the rain couldn't keep us down - though it would have been nice to be able to enjoy the bonfire! 
We visited Cosby Campground in the Great Smokey Mountains National Park - we had planned a hike but had to reschedule due to the never-ending rain which couldn't be conquered with a toddler in tow. Instead, we hit up the most adorable apple farm and barn to snag some delicious apple treats! Apple fritters, apple pies, apple butter - apple over load!!

Ashley had to go back to school Sunday night but was able to rejoin us Wednesday to make the trip home for HER fall break. 

Monday we found what has to be one of my new favorite short & quick hikes at Tremont Institute - Spruce Flat Falls was gorgeous! We took a few minutes to enjoy the view and munch on an apple. It was the perfect distance and the most beautiful sunny day! 

Enjoy the rich fall colors - it is truly amazing what an iPhone can capture when you forget that you took your memory card out of your camera! 

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

I'm Worn Out

I have been meaning to write a post for a few weeks now and since I decided to take a "mental health" day today - the timing was just right for a little blog session. This semester has been so different from the rest of nursing school - the studying has slowed and my skills have been pushed to a new level. I am ending things out as a student on an Ortho floor - I cannot say that I love it but I have gotten to practice some skills that will be useful in the future. We generally see patients fresh from a joint replacement, spine surgery or ER admits. 72 more hours to go....

I keep telling myself "I can do this" but there is always that seed of doubt somewhere in the back of my mind. It's challenging, it's uncomfortable, some days it's awkward - but I want to be the one to do it. I know I can learn this - so many have gone before me.

I think one reason this rotation has seemed to drag on for me is the atmosphere in which I am working. Often times, people I am surrounded by are negative about..well...just about everything!
I feel the life being sucked out of my hopes and dreams of becoming a nurse. I am entering this profession because I like to care for people, I hate to see someone hurting and I think everyone deserves a kind, compassionate, careful nurse to walk with them through their hospital stay {whether hours or weeks}

Although it may not be listed in the syllabus, I learn one fact more and more each time I step foot into the hospital. I cannot do this on my own strength. I must rely on the Lord, He who is stronger than I. The true healer, comforter and confidant.

Nurses burn out.
Nurses live in an almost constant state of stress - emotionally and physically.

But God remains - He is constant, He is sufficient.

The days are grueling and the stories continually touch my heart, often reminding me of my own family member or friend.

When I return to my car after a long shift and start that 40 minute drive home, my soul is refreshed and renewed by the presence of Jesus. Sometime it's through tearful prayer, sometimes I sing along as praises are lifted up on the radio but often, it is the silence that is most powerful - reflection on what all I have to be thankful for.

68 days stand between me and a diploma with the letters B S N
And 68 forevers will not separate me from the unconditional togetherness of my soul with Christ.  Hallelujah!

"His going out is as sure as the dawn; 
He will come to us as the showers, 
as the spring rains that water the earth."
Hosea 6:3

Monday, September 1, 2014

Junior Year Adventure

It’s that time of year again- time for school to start back up. I am a Junior at the University of Tennessee Knoxville. I am studying Microbiology with a minor in Hispanic Studies. Unfortunately, school for me started a week and a half ago on August 20th…way too soon. This year I am on the leadership team for the Baptist Collegiate Ministry which also happens to be my home for the year, but it also means I had to move in a week earlier than normal. I am in a tiny little room with no windows and a community style kitchen and bathroom, but it’s just enough for an on-the-go college student. I got to decorate with many of the things I bought in Africa, including the quilt on my bed! 
{As you can see, moving in wore Myah out}
Before everyone else made it to campus, we went on a leadership retreat in Western Kentucky. We had lots of meetings and planning but we also had some free time at the lake to swim and do some cliff jumping!
After the retreat, it was time for the rest of campus to move in. The leadership team got up early Saturday morning and helped Freshmen move in all morning. It was a great chance to get to meet some new faces and invite the Freshmen to check out the BCM! That night we served about 1,000 hamburgers/hotdogs to students and parents. It was a long day of hard work. 
Before classes started, Cody and I decided to take advantage of the time off and make the drive to the other side of the mountains on the North Carolina side for a nice day of hiking. Unfortunately, it was a dreary day of rain, but that didn't slow us down. We decided to move our picnic to the back of the car, and by the time we finished eating, the rain was pretty much gone!
The hike was a nice loop that was supposed to be about 4 miles but we ended up going about 5.5 miles {felt more like 10 miles uphill!}. We saw three beautiful waterfalls and were hiking next to a river for most of the hike. By the end we were both more than tired of the hills and bugs.
Classes started on that Wednesday and I also started a new job. I am now a clinical research assistant for a pediatric rehabilitation specialist. I get to help with the office work as well as accompany the doctor in with the patients and assist in whatever she needs. It is going to give me great hands on experience as well as teach me more about the other side of foster care. I will get lots of exposure to drug exposed babies, most of whom are now in foster care. Unfortunately we also have to report some patients to DCS. This is going to be an eye opening experience for sure. 
The weekend after school started, the BCM took an overnight white water rafting trip. I was lucky enough to be in a boat with 7 passengers, meaning only 6 people had to paddle and I got to sit in the front of the boat and just enjoy the ride {which also meant a face full of cold water every few minutes}. I came back with plenty of bumps and bruised, but it was definitely worth it.
Since then, it has just been class, work, homework, sleep- repeat. The campus is ridiculously crowded, especially with all of the lost, confused freshmen. I'm living for the weekends, which consist of Netflix and gourmet meals. 
I hope that everyone has had a wonderful weekend and enjoys their labor day! Here in Knoxville we have celebrated with a home opener victory over Utah State and the Boomsday fireworks! 

Happy Labor Day and GO VOLS!

Friday, August 15, 2014

A Beary Crazy Adventure

The cheesy title, I can hardly stand to leave it up there!
Weekend update Wait, it's Friday night already? Time these days seems to be a never-ending stream of weekends {I almost hate to say that knowing school is a week away!}
 Sunday morning, we loaded {multiple} cars up and headed to Knoxville to move Ashley into the BCM - where she will be living for her junior year. The trek up was beautiful as usual - the drive becomes so wonderful as Tennessee turns from flat to rolling hills to mountains. I brought my camera on the trip and somehow it remained in my little duffle bag until the last night, so excuse the plethora of iPhone pictures! 

Baby M was such a trooper and even though she cannot seem to sleep in hotel rooms, she caught some good naps here and there! 

 I always love getting to have an evening drive through Cade's Cove. Ususally, we don't see much - just enjoy the mountains and sweet time with family. Tuesday night, the weather was incredible and we saw SEVEN bears! I was so impressed and in awe of the incredible majesty and beauty of these large creatures especially since I have never seen one in the wild! It was a great end to a quick trip in East Tennessee.

 Ash, we miss you already but can't wait to hear about your incredible year! 

Happy Friday Night & Happy Weekend Lovin'!

Thursday, August 7, 2014

One Week of Yummy Meals

Summer days can be the most relaxing and the most boring days of the year. Once I got back from Africa, I decided to pass some of the time by cooking. I planned out a weekly menu from my pinterest page and I figured I would share with the blog world.

BE WARNED: I am not a food blogger. I do not have fancy tips and tricks. I do not have delicious looking pictures. In fact, I didn't even plan to blog these pictures. I am no chef and I only have my family's opinion to go by.

So, here we go. 

Buffalo Chicken Crescent Ring, Fresh Veggies, and Nutella Pastry Cookies

Unfortunately, I didn't get any pictures from this meal, but it turned out just like the step by step directions found here. This meal reminds me of something to serve while watching a football game. It is certainly not finger food, but reminds me of hot wings. I paired it with cold baby carrots and celery dipped in ranch. I really enjoyed it and it was something different to shake up the menu.

I was a little iffy on the Nutella pastries, but they were a big hit. They are definitely a pastry with more of a pie crust texture than a cookie. The dough could definitely be made and separated into baggies for later use if you didn't want to bake them all at once. Hint: The dough did not brown off in the oven, so just go by baking time and they should be good to go!

Bowtie Lasagna, Buttery Garlic Broccoli with Parmesan, Garlic Bread, and Blonde Brownies

The Bowtie Lasagna is a 16 minute dinner from Pioneer Woman and the recipe can be found here.
It pretty much tasted like spaghetti made with bow ties to me. It was pretty quick and easy and a hit at home. The broccoli was a favorite around here. We like fresh steamed broccoli, so add some garlic salt and cheese and it turns to love! The "recipe" is here, but you could just add the ingredients to your taste. There is no exact science here. 

I have never had a blonde brownie before, but they were easy to mix up and we pretty much had all of these ingredients at home already {from my dessert board}. We added vanilla bean ice-cream for some extra yumminess! 
BBQ Chicken, Salad, and Rolo Stuffed Chocolate Chip Cookies

BBQ chicken pizza is something we made in Africa a lot. Over there we had to make everything from scratch, but in this recipe, I used a Pillsbury pizza crust. HINT: This crust rolls out in a rectangular shape and would be easier made like that than the circle I used. We loved this pizza and it was not difficult or time consuming.
The BBQ sauce is definitely the main flavor in the pizza, so be sure to pick a kind that you like!
In the salad, we got to use the salad tongs I brought back from Africa!
The cookies weren't hard to make either and were probably one of the best things we have had yet. The recipe makes a LOT of cookies so there will be plenty to share! 

Chicken-Broccoli Shells and Cheese, Ranch Carrots, and Snicker Caramel Apple Salad

Another quick and easy meal but I would suggest adding more cheese than this recipe has. I understand that the cheese makes it "unhealthy" but it sure does make it tasty. I would also recommend a BIG skillet. Mine was almost not big enough for all the delicious ingredients. Also, SALT- be generous! 
I don't have a picture of the carrots, but we also enjoyed them and they were super easy to make. However, the recipe calls for Hidden Valley dip, but I couldn't find just regular ranch so we ended up just using the powdered ranch dressing instead of the "dip" it called for.
The dessert was good but needs to be made in advance and should be very chilled when served. Our fridge didn't get it quite cold enough for my family. It also made a large portion and would be a good dessert for a party! We had leftovers for quite awhile.
Turkey Pesto Grilled Cheese and Crockpot Potato Soup

This has been one of my favorite nights on the menu. This meal is super easy and will make you feel like you're sitting in Panera. The potato soup is obviously going to need a little bit of time to cook, as it is a crockpot dish. As the recipe says, the cayenne pepper gives a KICK. I used half of the recommended amount and I still thought it had a little kick to it. I would recommend using half or less or the suggested amount of cayenne pepper. I also crumbled up bacon I had leftover onto the top to add a different flavor and texture.

The sandwich was my favorite part of the meal. Instead of a seeded artisan bread, as recommended here, we used sourdough bread. Also, when I went to look for herb roasted turkey at good 'ole Walmart, the deli only had herb roasted chicken. So, we had that shaved and it was GOOD. I used Roma tomato slices and the George Foreman to cook them on. Mmmmmm.
No dessert tonight since we had so many left over.

Nacho Supreme Pizza, Guacamole, and Sopapilla Cheesecake

It's MEXICAN NIGHT! Aye Aye Aye. I made this recipe just like it is written. It is a very filling meal and we loved the addition of some guacamole {as seen by the picture}. The cheese sauce on top of the pizza will determine the spiciness of the pizza, so you can pick a mild or hot sauce. We also had this meal as some leftovers but just remember there are chips on top which will get soggy {yuck}! 
The guacamole doesn't have a recipe, I just mixed together what I thought would be good. I used 4 medium sized avocados, about 1/4 of a diced yellow onion , a seeded and diced tomato, and squeezed in the juice of half a lemon. For a little seasoning I also added garlic salt and table salt to taste. As you can see, even Myah loved it.
For dessert we had sopapilla cheesecake. I made it before dinner so that it could chill. Since the fridge didn't get the caramel apple snicker salad quite cool enough, I put this one in the freezer during dinner and that was perfect for us. Just don't forget and leave it in for too long! 
There ya have it, a week of meals! We enjoyed all of these recipes and I don't think there was a "flop" in this bunch. I'm obviously a beginner cook so you have to know they aren't too hard! I hope you enjoyed and have a chance to try some of these recipes yourself!

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