Double Chocolate Gooey Butter Cake

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This delicious recipe is baking right now in my oven and I had to share it with you! I feel as if I should provide a disclaimer: be prepared to SPLURGE with eating this gooey butter cake. Don’t even try to count the calories.

Ingredients:

  • Crust:
    • 1 box devils food cake mix
    • 1 stick butter, melted
    • 1 egg, room temperature
  • Filling:
    • 8oz block of cream cheese, softened
    • 3 eggs, room temperature
    • 1/3 cup cocoa powder
    • 1 tsp vanilla
    • 1 stick butter, melted
    • 16 oz powdered sugar
    • A handful of chocolate chips

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour a 9 by 13 inch pan. Set aside.
  2. For the crust, combine all ingredients until mixed well. I usually do this step with a wooden spoon. Press crust mixture into bottom of the greased pan. Set aside
  3. For the filling, beat the cream cheese until soft and fluffy. Add in the 3 eggs and vanilla and beat well. Slowly add in the cocoa powder and powdered sugar and beat until creamy. Mix in chocolate chips. Stir in the melted butter until just combined. Spread filling on top of crust.
  4. Bake for 45 minutes. It will still be slightly gooey but that’s what you want! Let it cool for 30 minutes before eating.

Enjoy!

xoxo,

Megan

 

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Pizza! Pizza! Pizza!

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Did you know October is National Pizza Month? This yummy food was given its own month back in 1984 by the founder of Pizza Today magazine, Gerry Durnell. Durnell chose October as the month to recognize the famous Italian pie because the first issue of his magazine was to debut in that same month and year. As a pizzeria owner in Santa Claus, Indiana, Durnell noticed there was little public information on the pizza industry and in return, he created a national pizza-oriented magazine and national pizza month. Today, pizzerias throughout the country celebrate the delicious flatbread topped with tomatoes, cheese, meats, and veggies. However, people’s love for pizza goes back to the food’s creation in Naples, Italy in the 1700s.

History of Pizza 

The word “pizza” was first recorded in a Latin manuscript from Central Italy in the 10th century. Modern pizza, the types we know today, were created in Naples during the 1700s and 1800s. According to Carol Helstosky, author of “Pizza: A Global History,” during this time Naples was a waterfront city known for the working poor. Due to their lifestyle and occupations, the Neapolitans (citizens of Naples) needed food that was inexpensive and could be consumed quickly. The idea for pizza came about and was sold by street vendors and informal restaurants. The earliest form of pizza is Jeyoun, which takes the traditional style of pizza and adds ingredients to the dough. As for toppings, they included tomatoes, cheese, oil, anchovies, and garlic.

There are three common types of Neapolitan pizzas. The first is the more traditional Pizza Marinara. This type has tomatoes, garlic, oregano, and olive oil. Then, there is Pizza Margherita, which has tomatoes, mozzarella, basil, and olive oil. Legend has it that this pizza was created around 1889 when King Umberto I and Queen Margherita visited Naples. During their visit, they wanted a variety of pizza from the city’s Pizzeria Brandi. Their favorite type was the pizza mozzarella, a flatbread topped with cheese, tomatoes, and basil. This pie then became known as Pizza Margherita, after the Queen herself. Lastly, there is Pizza Margherita Extra with tomatoes, mozzarella from Campania, basil, and olive oil.

Italian immigrants brought pizza to the United States. Opening in 1905, Lombardi’s in Manhattan was the nation’s first pizzeria. The famous pie was also introduced after World War II when soldiers from the Italian Campaign came home. For example, Ira Nevin served in Naples and came back from war with pizza ideas. His family was in the oven business in New York, and once home, Nevin invented the first gas-fired, ceramic deck pizza oven. Thanks to his invention, pizzerias and pizza spread throughout the country.

Currently, there are several different types of pizzas and pizza restaurants, and chains are familiar sites in every city. Everyone has their own favorite piece of pie, and there is much debate as to which type is the best.

Types of Pizza

As for me, I am a little boring when it comes to my favorite type of pizza. I prefer all cheese, hand-tossed pizza and nothing else. However, there are many different toppings you can add and different crust thicknesses. Different types of pizzas include the Chicago deep-dish, New York style, the Sicilian, Greek pizza, and California pizza. Others include the Hawaiian Barbeque Chicken, veggie, and seafood. All are unique in their own way and have either thick or thin crust. You can really put anything you want on pizza as a topping. Some common ingredients are cheese, beef, pepperoni, anchovies, onions, garlic, pineapple, peppers, spinach, black olives, chicken, and ham. You can garnish your pizza with varieties of sauces, such as pesto, béchamel (a white sauce), barbeque, tomato, and salsa.

When it comes to pizza, the choices are endless. As a matter of fact, thanks to the loving nature of this Italian pie, about thirteen percent of the U.S. population eats pizza every day. Sounds like it might be time to get me a slice!

xoxo,

Megan

Article published in Forsyth Woman Magazine. 

Happy Friday!

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Congratulations! You have made it through another week, meaning you are a little bit stronger, wiser, and older than ever before. Have a great weekend, y’all!

xoxo,

Megan

 

A Millennials’ Guide to Budgeting

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I’m a millennial. I was born in the early 1990s, and I am still learning about life as an adult. For the past several years, I have been budgeting my money and keeping track of my savings and earnings. However, when you are starting out in life, it can be hard. Budgeting is something I’m still learning, just like everyone else. Below are some budgeting tips for millennials, but they can be useful no matter how old you are.

Make your own food: Yes, it can be time-saving to quickly grab your lunch or favorite drink out, but it isn’t money-saving. Instead, prepare your meals at home either the night before or in the morning. Also, consider preparing your meals for the week during the weekend. Buy unperishable items in bulk and don’t let perishable items expire. Always plan out your meals before hitting the grocery store and stick to your list. Unnecessary items will soon add up, destroying your budget. In addition, preparing your food at home will be healthier than stopping at a fast-food restaurant.

Don’t compare yourself to others: With the world of social media, it can be hard to not compare our lifestyle with others. You might see your friend going on a two-week vacation to the Bahamas and think, “How did they afford that?” Rule of thumb: don’t compare your life to the lives of others. Doing so will lead to unneeded spending. Instead, live within your means and stick to your savings plan. In the long run, you’ll be happy you did.

Start an emergency fund and savings for retirement: It can be tough to set aside money for the future when you are currently struggling financially. However, having an emergency fund helps prevent wiping out an entire month’s paycheck when something unexpected happens. There are a few different ways to create an emergency fund. Start small by collecting your loose cash and change into a jar. Once you have a sizable amount, transfer it into a savings account. Then, continue with allotting an amount of your earnings to go towards the fund. Before you know it, you’ll have money for when emergencies strike. As for retirement, it’s never too early to start thinking about it. There are two avenues to help you begin investing: a 401(k) and an IRA account. A 401(K) is done through an employer. It allows a portion of your paycheck to be taken out before taxes. Taxes are then paid when the money is withdrawn. Talk with your employer about what they offer in regards to retirement savings. As for an IRA account, it is an individual retirement account with many tax advantages. You can choose from either a traditional or Roth IRA.

Use technology to help budget: Speaking of social media, there are also advantages to using these sites, and technology in general. Make budgeting more organized and convenient with using free apps and websites. A few trustworthy apps are Personal Capital, Mint, LearnVest, and Level Money. Personal Capital allows you to link all of your financial accounts into one place. It has tools to help you understand your cash flows, optimize investments, etc. As for Mint, this app tracks all the activity from your bank, credit cards, loan, and investment accounts. In addition, you can create a budget with certain categories and receive notifications for bills when they are due. LearnVest gives you the option to link your accounts and file purchases into category folders, as well as access to informational articles on managing your money. Lastly, Level Money provides a general overview of how much cash you have available for the day, week, and month.

Invest in a low-interest credit card: The term “credit card” can be scary for some. It can bring financial distress, but when used correctly it can build personal credit. You’ll need credit when renting an apartment, buying a car, and more. When looking into a credit card, do your research. Get one that has plenty of rewards and a low-interest rate, that way you can stay on track and pay it off sooner rather than later.

There is no perfect solution to budgeting, and there is no “one size fits all” method. Setting your financial path can be challenging, but when planned correctly and using the tips above, it will become easier.

xoxo,

Megan

Article published in Forsyth Woman Magazine 

Lessons from My Furry Friend

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Pets are more than animals living in our homes; they are family members. We provide for them, spend time with them and love them like the rest of our family.

My family got our dog when I was in the second grade. Seventeen years later, our little miniature poodle with apricot colored fur named Gidget is still an important, lovable part of our lives. Looking back at the past years, Gidget has taught my family and me lifelong lessons, such as the ones below.

  1. Forgive easily — Sometimes forgiving others is easier said than done. However, when you can forgive easily, life will be better. Dogs are quick to forgive their owners for their imperfections and will always provide doggie kisses and an “it’s ok, I still love you” look.
  2. Enjoy the day — There is nothing better than spending the day eating, playing and sleeping. Well, that’s at least how Gidget spends it. So, why shouldn’t we model our days after our pets? Pets live in the moment and make the most of their time. As human beings, our goal should be the same. Make every day worth it, and have fun along the way.
  3. Be loyal and dependable — Since the very beginning, Gidget has always been by my side. She is a loyal and dependable furry friend to everyone. We can always count on her to give love, jump for her food and provide us with goofy moments. Being loyal and dependable is an important trait to have. Everyone needs someone they can count on and know they will be there for them, through thick and thin.
  4. Believe in yourself — Animals don’t care what others think and will do as they please. They are confident in what they do, whether it’s eating or playing with a toy. We should follow our pets’ actions by believing in ourselves and having confidence in our abilities.
  5. Always drink plenty of water — Okay, Gidget might not have many choices when it comes to beverages. However, water is always her to-go choice and should be ours, as well. We all know the proven health benefits of drinking plenty of H2O, so why aren’t we following them? To determine how much you should drink, go with the common 8×8 rule – eight, eight-ounce glasses daily.
  6. Follow your instincts — Every pet owner has probably seen their animals on an intense hunt for food. Trust me, when Gidget smells food, nothing stands in her way to find it. She also follows her instincts when it comes to sniffing out a new stranger in the house, looking for her family members or just finding that perfect napping spot on the sofa. Follow your gut instinct, whether it is about a person or situation. What thought pops into your head first is usually right — don’t second guess yourself.
  7. Always be happy to see your loved ones — From the beginning, Gidget has greeted us with a wagging tail and jumps of joy as we come through the front door. The excitement she has for seeing loved ones, whether they have been gone five minutes or five weeks, should be the excitement humans have; maybe not with the tail wagging but with lots of smiles and hugs.
  8. Love unconditionally — This life advice is my favorite. One of our family nicknames for Gidget is “our little bundle of love” because of all the love and kisses she gives us. Whether it is sitting next to us on the sofa, lying in her bed while we are in the kitchen or cheering us up when things go wrong, Gidget is always there. Loving others unconditionally is easy to do. It doesn’t require large gestures but simply small acts of kindness. Just being there for someone and supporting him or her can mean a difference. Love each other unconditionally, just like Gidget does.

xoxo,

Megan

Article originally written from Forsyth Woman Magazine. 

 

My Mental Health Story

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Today, October 10th, is World Mental Health Day; a day where we bring awareness to mental health illnesses and issues throughout the world. 365 days of the year, our goal should be to raise awareness and support for mental health, because after all, mental health effects everyone.

If you have been following my blog, you know I have depression and anxiety. It is an everyday battle and I wanted to let you know my full story. My mental health story started when I was very young. Growing up, I was always anxious and could cry at the littlest thing. During college, I started experiencing panic attacks and small episodes of depression. Then, after graduation, it hit hard – full speed ahead hard.

I have only been out of school for a little more than two years. The first year was fine; I was still anxious, but not yet depressed. Then, as life got harder and more struggles happened, I started experiencing feelings I had never felt before. I was sad, I wanted to cry, I didn’t want to get out of bed, and I wasn’t happy. My family and friends began noticing a difference as I became more somber, quiet, and a homebody. My feelings kept getting worse and worse until July 2017.

It was a Monday morning. I had just woken up and didn’t want to get ready for work. Sleep didn’t come easy the night before and I was exhausted. I knew I wasn’t mentally able to go to my job and instead I cried my eyes out…the whole day. Why? I don’t know. Just thinking about getting up and going somewhere, out into public, and being a functioning human being at the time, broke me into a million different pieces. Tuesday came and I was still the same. My mom, my biggest supporter, encouraged me to go see my doctor and I’m glad she did. Asking for help was the best decision I could have made. Five minutes into my doctor’s appointment, I was sobbing my eyes out and I received the help I desperately needed. I was given treatment and medicine.

Today, about four months later, I am more at peace, can easily smile and laugh, and don’t want to cry all the time. Yes, I still have my bad days and have to make the daily decision to get up. I know depression and anxiety will always be with me and something I will carry into my future. However, I am now stronger and better able to manage my mental health.

To those battling a mental illness, I hope my story will give you courage to ask for help. To those who aren’t, I hope my story will give you courage to provide help and raise awareness about mental health. Together, we can change the stigma, start the conversation, and make mental health a part of everyday life.

xoxo,

Megan

 

DIY Halloween Costumes

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Every year on October 31st, people celebrate a day and night of trick-or-treating, eating candy, and wearing fun or scary costumes. This day, commonly known as Halloween, dates back to the ancient Celtic festival of Samhain. The Celts, who lived in current-day Ireland 2,000 years ago, celebrated their new year on November 1st. On the night of October 31st, they celebrated Samhain, a night when they believed the ghosts returned to earth and marked the end of summer. During these festivals, sacred bonfires were held by priests, and people would burn crops and sacrifice animals to the Celtic deities. Typically, the Celts wore costumes of animal heads and skins and tried to tell each other’s fortunes. The wearing of the costume during these festivals began the now common Halloween tradition.

Weeks before the big day, people will spend time and money finding the perfect Halloween costume. However, sometimes the price of your outfit can get expensive, when all the pieces and parts start adding up. Never fear, there are ways to create your wanted look without breaking the bank.

DIY Halloween costumes can be inexpensively made using common household and craft items. Think about materials that you already have, such as boxes, fabrics, buttons, pipe cleaners, cardstock, and clothing. Only buy the missing items at discount or craft stores. Need some ideas for DIY Halloween costumes? Take a look below for some creative and fun outfits.

Rosie the Riveter: Only a few items are needed to form this iconic look. All this costume requires are jeans, a denim shirt, and a red and white polka dot bandana.

Bumble Bee: This costume is great for adults and kids. Wear a black T-shirt and black leggings. Use elastic and yellow and black tulle for a skirt over the leggings. Tie the tulle, alternating the colors, to the elastic. Lastly, purchase a bee headband from Amazon or create one yourself. Take a plain headband, black or yellow, and four pipe cleaners, two black and two yellow. Twist a black and yellow pipe cleaner together and then twist to the headband on one side. Do the same with the remaining materials. Glue a yellow pom-pom to each set of pipe cleaners at the top.

Lion: You’ll be the king or queen of the jungle with this animal look. Begin with a yellow shirt, yarn, and brown eyeliner. Using the yarn, make the lion’s mane. First, wrap yarn around three of your fingers, circling as you go. Then, tie a piece of yarn through the hole around the rounds of yarn to secure. On the opposite side from where you just tied, cut across and fluff. This should make smaller threads, and a pom-pom look. Repeat until you have plenty of yarn pom-poms. This will serve as the main part of the mane. Braid six strings of yarn together to create a headband. Be sure it is long enough to tie around your head and tie off at each end. Start from the middle of the cord and attach the pom-poms by tying them to the braided headband. Add a nose and whiskers with the eyeliner, and you’re done.

1980s Outfit: The 1980s were a decade known for their fashion—good and bad. Grab some leg warmers, bright-colored accessories, blocky shapes on clothing, velvet, lace, and some teased big hair, and you’ll be able to create a Halloween costume straight from the ‘80s.

Bubble Bath: This outfit is so simple, you can make it on October 31st. Wear a white shirt and pants or leggings underneath balloons. Blow up clear, white, and pink balloons and safety pin the end of the balloon that’s been tied all over your clothing. Then, safety pin balloons to a white headband for your headpiece. Lastly, glue a rubber duck to one of the balloons for an added effect. You can also include sponges, loofahs, and other bubble bath accessories to your outfit.

Halloween costumes don’t need to be expensive. Start with your outfit and make a list of the materials you’ll need. Think about what you have and what you need to buy. Need some more ideas? A quick Google or Pinterest search will open up a door of Halloween costume possibilities.

xoxo,

Megan

Article written for Forsyth Family Magazine.