The Countdown

Today I started my senior year of college. SENIOR YEAR! How crazy is that?! Its pretty crazy to me. So here is my beginning of senior year reflection.


Last night as I laid in bed sending Henry my final few texts of the night I told him the number of days until our wedding. 285 days.

Wow! That seems like a lot of days. But then I got to thinking. Thinking about how much will happen in the next 285 days. Within the next 285 days I will: apply for an internship, I will find out if I get placed in an internship, will turn 22, I will celebrate my 3rd Thanksgiving and Christmas with Henry, we will finish planning our wedding, we will celebrate at other weddings, we will find out where we will be moving to, we will find our first apartment to move into, Henry will turn 22, we will celebrate many family birthdays, we will graduate college, we will move, and we will GET MARRIED!

It is crazy to think that all of that will happen in the next 285 days. And that is all that I know about right now! There will be many more memories made than what I have listed above. Many small things that lead to precious memories, whether they be good or bad memories. In the next 285 days small and big things will happen, all worth while things. Things that we might not even notice made an impact on our lives until many years later. But no matter what happens, each day will be worth while, even if we don’t remember it for the rest of our lives.

So many times I have said “Oh I wish June 4th was here already! I can’t wait to marry my best friend.” And I have to admit, already this year( yes I know this school year is only a few hours in) I have said how I wish this was the last day of classes, or how I am just ready to have the year be done. But now I am realizing that while I can’t wait to graduate and get married, it would be so sad for all of these next 285 days to just blow away. I hope that these next 285 days, and the thousands of days to follow, will each be precious to Henry and to me. That we appreciate each day for what it is: a day, a chance to live and to make memories.

So here begins my countdown. My countdown to the day we graduate and to the day I marry my best friend. And while I can’t wait and am very excited for both of those days, I’m going to do my very best at living each day and not wishing any way.

Here’s to senior year and the next 285 days.

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Journey of Waiting

Disclaimer:  If you find yourself being described in the beginning of this post, please do not be offended. It is simply because I do not feel that I can share my waiting journey without including it because it is the reason I am writing this post. But I hope that if you are one questioning, or not, you will find the answers that I have found.

Laying the ground work: For those who do not know I am engaged. I am also a dietetic student, who must complete an internship after graduating next year to be able to do anything with my degree. These internships are EXTREMELY competitive and only about 50% of applicants get accepted. Obviously this is a stressful fact of life for a dietetic student. 

You may not know that I am a type A, love to have the future planned out as far ahead as possible type of person. You may know that this doesn’t always work, I cannot always plan a year or more ahead of time, which really stressed me out!

Since I have gotten engaged many people have asked where Henry and I will after we graduate and get married. My answer has always been “I don’t know yet,” or “Where ever I (hopefully) get an internship.” This answer is not always satisfying to those who ask. Well you know what? It doesn’t really satisfy me either.

To be honest, if I had a say in it we would already know where we are going to work and live for the next several years. But that is not realistic, and that is OKAY! It is okay for us to not know right now, or even right before we get married. It is okay for me to be turned down for an internship, wait a year and reapply. It is okay for us to not get a job in our field right away. It is all okay.

 In fact it is more than just okay, it is actually normal! Most college grads have no idea what they will be doing Monday after graduation. I hope to not be one of those people because it might drive me insane, but I know if I am it will all be okay.

I keep saying it will all be okay, but how do I know this? I know this because I have started this journey of waiting. Waiting for a plan, for answers, for a place to live after marrying the love of my life. If I am honest with myself, this journey is about so much more than waiting.

This journey of waiting, is really about trusting. Trusting and know that God will provide everything Henry and I need. This whole thing is about learning to trust God to be the provider of the things He knows we need, not the things we think we need.

I am learning to trust that God will provide Henry with a job to support us because I will be unable to work if I get an internship. Or if I get turned down that God is telling me this is not what He has planned. That there are greater things in store for me if I just trust him.

My journey is not a journey I am on by myself. Henry is walking with me, supporting and encouraging me every step of the way. Reminding me when I forget, that God has a plan and has and will continue to provide that things that we need. The best part of this journey with him is that we get to pray together for guidance. Guidance that we might know where I should apply or where to go if I don’t get one. We just need guidance to know where God wants us to be.

I know what you are thinking, isnt everyone on this journey of waiting too? How is your journey any different from other dietetic students? The answer is that it is not. The only thing different might be that some of us are single while others, like myself, aren’t. We have someone else we have to consider in all of this. So really my journey is not unique.

However, my journey may be unique because instead of choosing to worry about the results, which I cannot control and will not know for about a year, I have chosen to trust God in all of this. While again, this may not seem unique, it is for me. Trusting God and giving the situation into His hands is something I struggle with. Yes, being a type A person it is hard for me to release control of a situation. But I am actively choosing this on a daily basis.

So even if I am accepted to an internship the first time applying it will not make me say “see I had nothing to worry about” because if I had not been worrying to begin with, I would have not learned anything. I have chosen to see this process not as an application and waiting process, but as a waiting and learning to trust process.

So while Henry and I have absolutely no idea where we will be after we get married, and will not be able to until next April. However, we do know one thing. We know that God is constantly providing the things we need and He isn’t going to stop anytime soon.

If you ask us where we will be once we get married we will not have answer for you, because we have no answer ourselves. We have no answer ourselves because we are on a journey of waiting, trusting, and praying. Right now we are just trying to enjoy the journey together.

From Drab to Fab! TV Tray Makeover

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Last semester my roommate realized how little space we have on our desks at school if we have our laptops on them. And she was totally right! I always have to put my things at odd angles just to get everything I need to do my homework on my desk. Then she had the brilliant idea of using a redone TV tray! So I basically stole her idea, but I know she doesn’t mind.

Here are the super simple DIY steps!

Materials:

TV Tray

Paint sample of your choice-I used Valspar Satin in Beach Blanket. You really only need a sample size, no need for anything bigger. Mine was $2.98 at Lowe’s. Or you could use acrylic/craft paint.

Fine Grain Sandpaper (optional)

Brush

Stencil (optional)

Paint for stencil (optional)

Stencil Brush (strongly recommended if using stencil)

Water Based Polyurethane Finish (recommended)

What to do:

I first started off by wiping the entire tray down with a damp cloth because it was a little dusty. You will want to do this if you don’t plan on sanding it.

I sanded mine off just slightly, legs included, so there would be a rougher surface for the paint to stick to.It doesn’t require much sanding at all. Just a few strokes over the whole thing. After sanding it I wiped the entire thing down again to get all the sand dust off of it.

Then I moved to painting my base color. Warning: It is fairly annoying to paint the legs, if you are seasoned painter it would be easier. Mine do not look perfect, but you cannot tell unless you are really close up to it. I put 2 coats on the legs and 3 on the top, but it just depends on what color and paint you use as to how well it cover the original color.

Once the base color was try I placed my stencil where I wanted it. I found my stencil and stencil brush at Hobby Lobby, but you can find them just about anywhere. I did have to stencil twice. The first time I used a foam brush and the paint got under the stencil so I painted over it and did it again with a stencil brush. That worked MUCH better! If you have never used a stencil brush go to youtube.com and look up some videos. They are very helpful!

After all the paint has dried you can apply the finish. I do recommend using the finish to help it last longer, prevent things from sticking to it, watermarks, etc. Be sure to read the directions on the can and I do suggests doing the number of coats the can recommends. This will help it from being streaky.

Now you are done! This is a great quick update to an otherwise boring piece of furniture that can be done in one day. And most come in sets so you can mix and match colors or patterns!

I can’t wait to use mine at school next year! And here is my before and after pictures again. It was hard to get good lightly, but it is a mint green color and dark gray for the bird.

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I have FINALLY gotten to check off 2 of my items on my summer bucket list! It took quite sometime, but I finally finished redoing my nightstand and my grandma’s old desk. I had a couple hiccups along the way, but it was actually really really simple!

Here is what the pieces looked like before hand

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The desk does have drawers with it, but I forgot to get a picture until I had already taken them out.

Materials:

2in angled brush

1 Quart Valspar Interior Semi Gloss Paint (Desk-Dove White, Nightstand-Ocean Storm and Honey Glaze)

Sander/Sandpaper (if desired or needed)

Polyurethane Finish- Water Based

How to:

My dad and I originally started with sanding both surfaces, but randomly he thought why not see if it sticks without sanding it. So we tried in an unnoticeable stop if the paint would cover the stain and stick without sanding. And it did! So we did not have to sand it down. However, I do think it would help if you sanded the entire piece. Even just a little bit would help.

I applied 2 coats of the Ocean Storm, 3 coats of the Honey Glaze, and 3 of the Dove White. How many coats to apply will depend on how dark the stain is, how dark the paint is, and what you think looks best. Using an angled brush will help with getting into the detailed parts of the furniture. I also did not have to use a primer because the paint was a paint + primer mix.

Once the piece has completely dried apply a polyurethane finish to at least to top surface and surfaces that will have things placed on. So for my project I applied it to the writing surface of the desk, the top of the nightstand, and the yellow shelf of the nightstand. The first time I apply the finish I used an oil based finish, which left my items yellow. Meaning I had to resand them to take off the finish and reapply a new water based finish.

However, if you have experience with an oil based finish and like it, by all means use it. I just did not get good results with it. Just follow the directions on the can for the finish.

Now you are all done! And you have a beautiful updated piece of furniture!

Here is my finished product!

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This past weekend was FILLED with joy! It all started on Friday. Henry and I made some finishing touches to my desk and nightstand then had a wonderful picnic at Meadowbrook Park in Urbana.

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Although our picnic consisted of fried chicken, chips, and watermelon we had a gorgeous view!

Later that night my new favorite person was welcomed into the world! Connor Ried Swango was born Friday Night, weighing 7lb 6oz and 19 inches long! He is absolutely perfect!! I cannot wait to go to Searcy in a few weeks to see him!

Then Saturday morning Mom, Dad, Henry and I all headed to Trenton, MO to see my grandma. On the way we stopped at Hannibal, MO (Mark Twain’s hometown) to have lunch and do some antique shopping. I wound up buying 22 Mason Jars from a little shop in town. The best part was with the price I bought all of them for they were about $2.75/jar AND there was a mix of different ones. My favorite are the blue ones of course! What do I need 22 Mason Jars for you ask? Well, one day I will get married, shocker I know!, and I plan to use them as decorations.

It was so wonderful getting to see my grandma and to have her meet Henry. I wanted them to meet before her health took a turn for the worst, which hopefully wont be for sometime. It was a short, but fun visit with her and my aunt!

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Orange Chicken Kabobs

Summer is one of my favorite times of the year because I have more time to cook. And since Im not at school I actually have a fully stocked kitchen to use! Henry and I love to cook together! We typically get our recipes from either Pinterest or from my Better Homes and Gardens cookbook. We made this recipe about a week or 2 ago (sorry for the late post) and it was a beautiful day outside so we thought we would try grilling. I found this delicious looking recipe for orange chicken kabobs with a dipping sauce! It has a great, sweet flavor and it is easy!

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Prep time: 30 minutes Marinate: 1 to 4 hours Grill: 10 minutes Makes: 8 servings (we got 4 servings, 2 kabobs per person)

6 Boneless Chicken Breast Halves

1/2 teaspoon Salt

1/4 teaspoon Black Pepper

3/4 cup Orange Marmalade

1/2 cup Chicken Broth

1 tablespoon Finely Shredded Lemon Peel (we left this out)

1/4 cup Lemon Juice

1/4 cup Honey

1/4 cup Coarse-grained Dijon-style Mustard

3 tablespoons Light Mayonnaise

1 tablespoon Sesame Seeds, toasted (to toast, lay them on a shallow baking sheet put them in the oven at 350 for 5-10 minutes and shake the pan once or twice)

Sliced Green Onions (optional)

1. Cut the chicken breast halves lengthwise into four or five strips. Sprinkle chicken with salt and pepper. Place chicken in a large resealable plastic bag set in a shallow dish, set aside.

2. For marinade, in a bowl whisk together orange marmalade, chicken broth, lemon peel, and lemon juice. Pour over chicken in bag. Turn to coat chicken. Marinate in the refrigerator for 1 to 4 hours. (We only had time for 1 hour and it tasted great. But next time we will for sure do it longer).

3. For dipping sauce, in a small bowl stir together honey, mustard, mayonnaise, and sesame seeds. Cover and chill until ready to serve.

4. Drain chicken, discarding marinade. Thread chicken strips accordion-style onto skewers. (We added yellow and red bell pepper to the skewers just because we like grilled peppers. You can add your favorite grilled veggies or fruits!)

5. Grilling:

Charcoal grill- grill kabobs on the rack of an uncovered grill directly over medium coals for 10-12 minutes or until chicken is no longer pink. Turn occasionally for even cooking.

Gas grill- preheat grill, reduce heat to medium. Place kabobs on grill rack over heat. Cover and grill as directed.

6. Serve chicken with dipping sauce, if desired sprinkle with green onions.

We served the kabobs with baked potatoes, salad, and grapes. This is a perfect meal to serve outside or your favorite summer spot!

 

 

A Success and a failure

Tuesday was Henry’s birthday! We went to go see Neighbors, which was pretty funny and I would recommend to anyone who doesn’t think the movie looks stupid. And if it looks stupid to you, well then I guess Henry and I are stupid! After the movie we made Weight Watchers Cheddar Chicken Bacon Ranch Pasta. It was really really good! Ours didn’t look like that picture that we found but it was still great! All of the directions we found were not very detailed, so we just kinda winged some of it.

Here are the directions we found (in parentheses is the directions we made up ourselves)

Serves: 4
Prep Time: 20 Min
Cook Time: 20 Min
 

Ingredients

1/2 lb whole wheat penne pasta
4 slice bacon, diced
1/2 Tbsp light butter
1 large chicken breast, boneless & skinless, cut into bite sized pieces
1 Tbsp all purpose flour
1/2 pkg ranch dressing mix ( 1/2 oz)
1 c fat free milk
1/2 c fat free shredded cheddar cheese
  salt & pepper to taste
 

Directions

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 1. Cook pasta according to package directions in boiling salted water; drain, return to pot, and keep warm. (we waited to put the pasta in the boiling water until we started to cook the chicken.)

 
2. Meanwhile, cook bacon in a large skillet over medium heat until crisp. Drain on paper towels. Drain all but 1/2 tablespoon of bacon drippings from the pan. (We didn’t have any extra grease to take out)
 
3. Season the chicken with salt and pepper. Add the butter to the reserved bacon drippings, then add the chicken to the same skillet. Cook until tender, no longer pink, and slightly browned. (In order to get the chicken to cook faster, we cut up the chicken before hand, then cooked it)
 
4. Sprinkle the flour and ranch dressing mix over the chicken, stirring to coat evenly. Stir in the milk, and cook, stirring occasionally, until thickened and bubbly. Stir in the cheddar cheese and half of the reserved bacon; cook and stir until the cheese is melted. Taste for seasoning and adjust as needed. ( Our sauce became fairly thick, so next time we will try turning down the heat during this step. The sauce wasn’t really a spreadable sauce to put over the noodles.
 
 Serve each plate of pasta with more bacon sprinkled over the top.
 
Here is what ours looked like
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This was our success. Our dessert on the other hand was a different story. I found a picture of a chocolate chip cookie dough sundae cup and thought those would be fun and easy to make. And while we were making them it seems just fine, but when we pulled them out we found that was not the case. Ours turned out to look like this
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So we just ate ice cream instead. Over all he had a great birthday! For his present he is getting something that is related to his gift everyday until the 21st and he has been told to keep the 22nd completely free of plans. So far he got a bag or Air Heads, chalk, and a bag with dirt and grass. I don’t think he has any ideas as to what it could be yet! My plan is working! Stay turned to see what he gets!