On the 1st Day of Christmas…

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Greetings all!

Many exciting things are happening and I’m so happy to share them with you. As I sit writing this post, there is 14.5″ of snow outside my window. We are on snow day #3 from school and will have snow day #4 tomorrow. There is just something magical and peaceful about snow at Christmastime, don’t you agree? Since I’m snowed in, I’ve had time to plan and think about where I want to take this blog.

  1. If you haven’t noticed, the blog has been designed! I decided it was time for a change and finally landed on a layout I love. There are still a few more edits to make, but overall, the blog is updated and easier to use.
  2. New additions to the blog include a shop! Yes, I’m linking my Teachers Pay Teachers shop to my site for all the hard-working educators. Also, I’m working on a fun Easy shop that will be debuting soon. These shops are the perfect places to get resources for teachers and gifts for you or a loved one.
  3. For the next 12 days, I’ll be bringing you Christmas fun and joy in my 12 Days of Christmas! On our first day, I give to you —– shortbread bites!

Shortbread Bites: 

Ingredients:

1 1/4 c. All-purpose flour
3 tbsp. Powdered sugar
1/4 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. Vanilla extract
1/2 c. (1 stick) butter, softened
1 tbsp. Red and green sprinkles
Directions:
  1. Preheat oven to 325º. In a food processor or blender, pulse flour, sugar, salt, vanilla, and butter until combined. Move mixture to a large bowl and knead until combined. Add sprinkles and knead.
  2. On waxed paper, roll dough into a thick square. Freeze for about 15 minutes.
  3. Cut dough into 1/2″ squares and place onto a greased baking sheet.
  4. Bake until cookies are golden, 18 to 20 minutes.

Enjoy!

Check back tomorrow for day #2.

xoxo,

Megan

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Christmastime Love for the “Peanuts”

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For many people, it is a Christmas tradition. Sitting down with your loved ones and watching the timeless program, A Charlie Brown Christmas, which premiered on December 9th, 1965. Many people watch this story each year in December. But, have you ever asked yourself what makes this classic so memorable and a favorite of so many?

During Christmas, a feeling of nostalgia is in the air, and every smell, sight, film, etc. can trigger a beloved memory for most people. This is exactly what happens with A Charlie Brown Christmas. Within the first few minutes, as viewers watch the characters ice skating, and the song “Christmastime is Here” plays in the background, they are taken back in time. They remember special moments spent with family and Christmas memories from long ago. According to writer Mike Errico, in his article, “The Real Reason You Love A Charlie Brown Christmas,” jazz pianist and film composer Vince Guaraldi’s use of sounds and pictures created an “emotional resonance.” Plus, the characters are voiced by children, not adults, adding a child-like enjoyment to the story. After all, doesn’t everyone feel like a child again during the holidays?

Along with the music and children’s voices, the film is remembered because of its premise. A depressed Charlie Brown is on a “search” for Christmas cheer. He is fed up with the commercialism of the holiday. To help with his journey, friend Lucy asks Charlie Brown to direct the neighborhood Christmas play. However, things don’t go as planned and chaos occurs. All the characters have different opinions, but for Charlie Brown, all the play needs is the enchantment of a Christmas tree. He and friend Linus go shopping and end up with a tiny twig of a tree. Once the two return to the rehearsal, their tree isn’t a big hit and a frustrated Charlie Brown asks if anybody knows what Christmas is all about. In the end, Linus saves the day by reciting the story of Christmas, Luke 2: 8-14. In addition, throughout the film, Snoopy is up to his traditional antics, making the loveable pup even more treasured. The story concludes with the Peanuts gang finding the meaning of Christmas, which doesn’t involve presents, glitter, or decorations.

A Charlie Brown Christmas is full of memorable and meaningful symbols that almost everyone can connect to. There is the tree; the tension of the commercialism of Christmas; coming together to help a friend or loved one; and discovering the message of the holiday. One reason these elements are easy to relate to is because these are the things some people are feeling during the month of December. A Charlie Brown Christmas reminds us of what is important and what is not. It gives the Christmas message to generations throughout the world. In addition, it shows that material objects aren’t the full representation of the holiday and that you can take the tiniest, unpleasant-looking thing and make it beautiful, like Charlie Brown’s Christmas tree.

When the show premiered on CBS, the network expected it to flop and be the end of Peanuts. However, people knew the program would be a success just by its broadcast when it was watched by more than 15.4 million viewers. Since then, ACharlie Brown Christmas has become the second-longest running Christmas program in history. Also, the program has inspired the television Christmas tradition of running half-hour animated specials, such as How the Grinch Stole Christmas and Frosty the Snowman.

Throughout the years, A Charlie Brown Christmas has become a Christmas staple. Peanuts creator Charles Schulz produced a timeless and relatable holiday story that is packed with nostalgia, a sense of melancholy, and meaning.  Just as Linus said, the program describes “what Christmas is all about.

xoxo,

Megan

Healthier Baking 101

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Sweets are in abundance during the holidays. From the cookies, cakes, and more, there always seems to be something tasty in my kitchen. However, too many sweet treats can be a problem. Many baking recipes include sugar, butter, and other fatty ingredients that are unhealthy for a person’s body. The good news, though, is that there are still ways for you to have your favorite confections that include healthier ingredients. Put the tips below to use this holiday season. Trust me, your recipes will taste the same, and your loved ones will never know that you swapped oil for applesauce.

Replacing Oil: 

  • As mentioned above, a great way to replace some of the fat is using unsweetened applesauce instead of oil. A common rule of thumb is for every one cup of oil in a recipe, switch out for ¾ a cup of applesauce. Don’t have any on hand? Combine one mushed apple and a splash of lemon juice.
  • Greek yogurt is another favorite of many and works fantastic in place of oil or fat. It keeps the moisture and flavor of the dish. Plus, the yogurt is full of calcium, protein, and probiotics.

Replacing Sugar: 

  • You can’t have a dessert without sugar! Or so they say. Instead of artificial sugar, mash up a banana into your ingredients. Make sure the banana is ripe. This substitution keeps the sweetness of the dessert but has healthier advantages, such as being rich in glucose, easy to digest, and improves your energy, preventing a sugar crash.
  • Alternatives to white table sugar are honey, maple syrup, or dates. These natural forms reduce the amount of added sugar but still should be consumed in reasonable amounts.
  • Lastly, spices work well in adding flavor and taste to treats with excessive amounts of sugar. Cinnamon and nutmeg are common replacements and boost metabolism, an extra benefit.

Replacing Flour: 

  • Almost all baking recipes include flour. Yet flour can affect your health in many ways, both good and bad. One simple way to add more health benefits is using whole wheat flour in lieu of white flours. The latter is made from heavily refined and processed wheat grain that isn’t good for you. As for whole wheat flour, it is processed differently and has more health advantages.
  • Try making your own flour from oats, flax, and nuts. All you need to do is blend up the items in a food processor or blender, and you are good to go. There is no need to change the needed amount the recipes call for; just blend until you have the same amount of fine dust.

Other Tips and Tricks: 

  • Even though it is a baking recipe, all desserts don’t have to actually be baked. Research and find a no-bake treat for your favorite sweet. No-bake desserts can include healthier ingredients and possibly use less fatty ingredients than are needed for a baked dessert.
  • Dark chocolate is known for its advantages, including aiding in weight loss, reducing stress, and controlling a person’s appetite. Moderation is key, but don’t hesitate to switch any type of chocolate with dark chocolate.
  • Avocados are a healthy fat and a unique way to replace butter. This fruit is packed with protein and nutrients. In addition, it gives a smooth texture to the item.

I love to bake, but sometimes the recipes aren’t the healthiest. The solution to that problem is incorporating these tips. Using substitutions in baking is easy and simple. Plus, you won’t feel guilty eating a few more pieces of a sweet treat, because you know it is healthier.

xoxo,

Megan

A Lazy Friday


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I’m a workaholic. I work most of the time and have to keep myself from squeezing in a task in my spare moments. Yet, today I’ve decided I’m not going to do anything, except rest, relax, and recharge. And, you know what? So far, it has been great.

My day has been filled with laying on the coach, watching T.V., and eating leftovers. The only “work” I have done has been online shopping. The beauty of being lazy is that it helps a person become a better person, because you are able to refuel and ease some of your stress. It is a type of self-care that everyone needs to do.

While you may be spending hours in store lines today, make sure to take some time being lazy and enjoying the day. Trust me, you’ll feel better and stronger to take on the holiday chaos.

xoxo,

Megan

Care for the Caregiver

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November is National Family Caregiver month. Each year, caregivers are celebrated for their contributions and efforts in assisting others. This month also raises awareness for the stress caregivers experience while putting others before themselves. According to the Mayo Clinic, about 1 in 3 adults in the United States are caregivers, and a caregiver can be defined as anyone actively helping others. This includes family members providing for older adults. While the job is wonderful, selfless, and rewarding, many caregivers experience emotional and physical stress. They may feel overwhelmed, constantly worried and tired, have frequent headaches, gain or lose weight, deal with depression, and become easily irritated or angry. If you are a caretaker and are showing some of the symptoms below, it might be time to reenergize. Below are some tips to help manage some of the caregiver stress.

  • Focus on how you can assist and what care you are able to provide: No one can be there to help with everything all the time. The important thing to understand is that you are doing the best you can and shouldn’t feel guilty about not being the perfect caregiver.
  • Ask for and accept help: There is no shame in asking for others to assist you. Create a list of things others can do and let them decide on the task. For example, the helper could cook dinner one night, or run an errand. You never know who will lend a helping hand until you reach out.
  • Find support for yourself: Most communities have caregiver resources. Types of aid include support groups, caregiving services (transportation, meal delivery, etc.), and health professionals. Also, stay in touch with your family and friends. Your loved ones can offer emotional support without being judgmental.
  • Practice self-care: Sometimes there is nothing better than a hot bath after a long day. Set aside time each week to focus on yourself and relax. Go for a walk each night, read a book before bed, etc. It is important to create a good sleep routine, eat a healthy diet, and drink plenty of water. Don’t forget to be physically active at least three times during the week.
  • Talk to your doctor: Before starting, make sure you are up to date on vaccines and your yearly physical. Plus, this helps establish a deeper relationship with you and your physician. That way, whenever something occurs, or you need someone to talk to, your doctor is able to offer assistance.

In addition, establish a relationship between you, the care recipient and the care recipient’s physician. Most of the time, the caregiver takes the care recipient to doctors’ appointments. Because of this, the caretaker needs to be on top of medications and treatments. Creating this relationship allows for more communication and understanding of how to better provide for the care recipient. If needed, prepare questions before the appointments to make sure the caregiver understands the care recipient’s healthcare plan. Lastly, don’t be afraid to call nurses or doctors with any questions or concerns.

If you are a caregiver and feeling stressed, try some of these activities. Remember to take time for yourself and relax. After all, you can’t take care of others without taking care of yourself.

xoxo,

Megan

Why T.V. is Rebooting the Classics

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They say the classics never die and that is exactly true when it comes to television shows. There’s Full House, Charmed, Will & Grace, Murphy Brown, and The Odd Couple. What do all these shows have in common? They are all TV series that have been rebooted. Within recent years, there has been a revival of classic television with the majority of the original cast members. However, there is one question that needs answering: why do we love shows so much that, after they have ended, we are excited to see them rebooted?

Recently, I saw an article titled “Before TV ‘Revivals,’ There Were Just Endless Spin-Offs.” In this piece, writer Becky Little describes that revisiting past series is a “timeless feature of television.” Back in the last few decades, spin-offs became big. This concept allows for the networks to still make money on popular shows, but with a new twist and elements of the existing show. For example, from All in the Family came The Jeffersons, Maude, and Good Times. However, throughout history, there have been good and bad spin-offs. When a previous show is reimagined, fans are able to connect once again with their favorite characters and elements of their beloved shows. Today, a reboot is an updated version of a spin-off.

Just like spin-offs, reboots bring back a sense of nostalgia and comfort to viewers. In today’s world, throwbacks (bringing back the past) is a popular trend, so why not create throwback TV shows? In his article, Why Network TV’s Obsession with Reboots Isn’t a Bad Thing,” Josef Adalian describes three reasons why reboots work on major networks. Think about it: most reboots have come back on their original home network, such as NBC and ABC.

First, Adalian states that the goal of network TV is all about establishing relationships between a show and its audience. After all, a show is considered a success if it has high ratings, right? A reboot allows shows to pick up where it ended. Let’s take Fuller House. This reboot of the original show Full House is set in today’s time but follows the lives of now grown-up daughters D.J., Stephanie, and their friend Kimmy, as well as their children. If you loved watching the Tanners in the 1980s, you will probably enjoy seeing what happened to them and how their lives worked out in the 2010s. It is like you are reconnecting with old friends and catching up. According to Adalian, “Returning to the shows that made us comfortable in an earlier time is either an intended or unintended consequence of all these reboots.” Let’s face it – being comfortable is a favored feeling by most people.

In addition, reboots don’t prevent other shows from being produced. While there are multiple reboots coming back to network TV, there are also multiple new series and original ideas. No matter how many revisited shows there are, pilot shows will never stop being produced, because most people like a little bit of the old and a little bit of the new. I’ll admit it – regardless of how much I like a show, sometimes I want to see something unique and a new storyline. With this point, Adalian is telling viewers that the future for reboots isn’t a network takeover. If you aren’t a fan of watching an updated version of a past show, don’t worry. There will always be a handful of new shows to catch your interest.

Lastly, Adalian’s third and final reason: old TV shows aren’t sacred texts and reinterpreting them isn’t sacrilege. Sometimes it can be hard seeing a treasured show taking an opposite approach when being rebooted. However, keep an open mind, because you never know whether or not you’ll like a revival until you see it. Sometimes it is only the concept that is rebooted, or it might be the characters and a completely different storyline. Whatever it may be, know there will be changes, but always give it a try before you judge.

TV reboots are the latest trend, and the list of shows being revisited keeps growing. At this time next year, who knows how many revivals will be around. As for now, let’s just enjoy the TV blast from the past.

xoxo,

Megan

Bringing the Scents of Fall into Your Home

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Autumn is my favorite season of the year with all of its festivities, decorations, and beautiful colors. Let’s not forget about all of the wonderful scents this time of the year brings. There is nothing better than smelling the scents of pumpkin spice, apple pie, and cinnamon in every home, store, or place in town. Bringing the amazing aromas into your own home is a quick and simple task that can be completed by trying these do-it-yourself fragrance recipes. The collection also includes a yummy treat that appeases more than one of your five senses!

Crockpot Cinnamon Spice Air Freshener: 

Ingredients: 

  • 3 cups hot water
  • 6 cinnamon sticks
  • 1 tbsp. pumpkin pie spice
  • 1 tbsp. whole cloves

Directions: 

  1. Combine all of the ingredients into a crockpot and stir. Cover with the lid.
  2. Cook on high for 1 hour, then remove lid. Let simmer on high for several hours.

 

Stovetop Potpourri:

Ingredients: 

  • 4-6 cinnamon sticks
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 1 orange rind
  • 2 tbsp. whole cloves
  • 3-5 bay leaves
  • 1 tsp. nutmeg (optional)

Directions: 

  1. Fill a medium sized pot three-fourths of the way full with water and add in all of the ingredients.
  2. Bring the water to a boil and let boil on high for 3-4 minutes. Then, lower the heat and simmer. Keep on an eye on the water level and refill when needed.
  3. This mixture lasts for several days. Place in a glass jar or bowl in the refrigerator. When ready to use again, re-fill a pot with water, pour in the ingredients, and simmer.

 This stovetop potpourri recipe can also be made in a crockpot. 

 

Crockpot or Slow Cooker Baked Apples:

Ingredients: 

  • 5 medium-sized gala apples
  • 1 ¼ cups granola
  • 3 tbsp. melted butter
  • 5 tsp. maple syrup
  • Vanilla ice cream or whipped cream for topping (optional)

Directions: 

  1. Cut the top off the apples with a knife. Using a melon baller or measuring spoon (teaspoon size), remove the core and seeds from each apple. Once complete, each apple should have a hole in the top for the remaining ingredients.
  2. Pack ¼ cup of the granola into each apple and place in the crockpot or slow cooker.
  3. Pour the melted butter evenly over the apples. Then, add a teaspoon of maple syrup over each apple.
  4. Cover and cook on high for 2 ½ to 3 hours. Apples should be tender, but not falling apart when done.
  5. Remove and serve with ice cream or whipped cream if you choose to do so.

 

Cinnamon Scented Pinecones:

Materials: 

  • Pinecones
  • Ground cinnamon
  • Clear craft glue
  • Paint brush
  • Sealable gallon-sized bag or container

Directions: 

  1. Using the paint brush, coat the pinecones with a thin layer of glue. If doing all the pinecones at once, work quickly to prevent the glue from drying. It is suggested to complete the pinecones individually.
  2. Sprinkle the entire pinecone evenly with ground cinnamon. Make sure to get all between the crevices.
  3. Place all the pinecones into the sealable bag or container and shake off all the excess cinnamon.
  4. Once the glue has dried, decorate your home with the cinnamon pinecones.

This DIY is great for kids! 

 

Your home will never smell better than it does with these fall fragrances filling the air. Plus, all recipes can easily be used as gifts for housewarming parties, birthdays, and more!

xoxo,

Megan