Happy St. Patrick’s Day!

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Top of the morning to ya! Ok, you might be reading this article in the morning, afternoon, or evening, but every year on March 17th, we are all Irish at heart for the day. This day, known as St. Patrick’s Day, is a religious holiday in honor of the patron saint, Saint Patrick, and the anniversary of his death in the fifth century. He is credited with bringing Christianity to Ireland. However, it wasn’t until the ninth or tenth century when people began celebrating the Roman Catholic feast day of St. Patrick on March 17th. The first parade for the day wasn’t held in Ireland, but in New York City, when Irish soldiers in the English military marched through in 1762. From that parade, Irish patriotism grew within the United States, and celebrations grew throughout the world. Today, the New York City St. Patrick’s Day Parade is the world’s oldest civilian parade and largest in the country. Other big parades and activities are held in Chicago, Boston, Philadelphia, and Savannah.

Throughout the world, celebrations are also held in honor of St. Patrick. The Sydney Opera House is known to go green by being lit with green lights on March 17th, and in Trafalgar Square in London, thousands of people line up for the annual parade. However, there is no better place to be on St. Patrick’s Day than in Ireland. The home country of the holiday is known for its festivities. The day is held in the same regard as Christmas and Easter. Since the holiday falls during Lent, Irish families spend the day at church in the morning and celebrating in the afternoon. Parades, community feasts, mass, and charity shows are the usual events, and everything except pubs and restaurants are closed. The biggest celebration is held in Downpatrick in Northern Ireland, where Saint Patrick is buried. Here, a week-long festival occurs with thousands of people attending.

Why Green?

On St. Patrick’s Day, it is a tradition for people to wear green or they will be pinched. Historically, blue was the first color associated with the day and Saint Patrick. Green was soon connected with the holiday, because of Ireland’s nickname, “The Emerald Isle.” Also, the color is on the country’s flag and is the color of the clover, another St. Patrick’s Day tradition. Many Irish people will wear a three-leaf clover or shamrock on their clothing. It is known that Saint Patrick used the clover in his teachings about Catholicism. The clover’s leaves represented the Holy Trinity. Another tradition some still follow is that Catholics will wear green and Protestants will wear orange. Both colors are on the flag, as well as white. The color white represents the peace between the two groups. As for the pinching, the myth goes that, if you don’t wear green, leprechauns will see you and pinch you. The green makes you invisible to them.

Traditions

The Shamrock – More commonly known as the three-leaf clover, the shamrock is a sacred plant in ancient Ireland. Also referred to as the seamroy by Celts, it symbolizes the rebirth of spring. In the seventeenth century, it became the symbol of Irish nationalism and pride for their heritage.

Irish Music – Music is an important part of the Irish culture and St. Patrick’s Day. The Celts’ culture was based on oral history with religion and legend being passed to the next generation by stories and songs. After the English had conquered their land, they were forbidden to speak their own language and were oppressed. They quickly turned to music to help remember their heritage and history. Today, traditional Irish music is played by bands and groups worldwide.

The Snake – During his time in Ireland, it is rumored that Saint Patrick once banished all the snakes from Ireland. He stood on a hilltop, now known as Croagh Patrick, and used a wooden staff to send the reptiles away. However, this legend is used mainly for the removal of pagan ideology to further the success of Christianity. In fact, Ireland was never home to snakes.

Leprechauns – The myth of these figures developed through folklore, with their Irish name “lobaircin,” meaning small-bodied fellow. Legend has it leprechauns come from the Celtic belief of fairies using their magical powers for good or evil. They are often represented as cranky people, who are known for their tricks for protecting their pots of gold, as well as mending shoes of other fairies.

On March 17th, the world comes together to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day. There are parades, music, and lots of wearin’ of the green. After all, on St. Patty’s Day, everyone is just a little bit Irish.

xoxo,

Megan

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To Travel Is To Explore

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This past weekend, my sister and brother-in-law moved to Kentucky. While I am missing them tremendously, I’m also excited for this new adventure for many reasons. You see, with them living in another state, I get to travel more often and see more places – one of my favorite things to do!

Growing up, I remember watching Travel Channel’s Samantha Brown and her shows, Great Hotels and Passport to Europe. For each episode, I kept thinking “Samantha has the best job in the world and I would love to have it.” As I watched the shows, I quickly realized I had a passion for traveling.

The reason why I travel is simple-to see the world and gain experiences. There is so much learning to be had outside of your comfort zone. My travel philosophy is to travel as much as possible, while learning about the history of an area and the people who live there. It also includes being adventurous and making memories. This philosophy plays into my five step travel list.

For every trip I take, I must:

  1. Take tons of pictures. I always come home with about 1,000+ photos.
  2. Meet and talk with the locals. You’ll get the best information about where to eat, what to do, and learn more about the area from a person who lives there.
  3. Research the location’s history and plan out my must-sees. However, I am careful to not plan too much and allow time for adventures.
  4. Get lost—on purpose. Take a back road, walk down a different street, just get out and explore.
  5. Go back to that same destination. It might not be the next year, or the year after that, but sometime in my life, I will make the time to go back.

If you want to get out of your comfort zone and see the world, you must travel. It doesn’t have to be a three week excursion. It can be a day trip to a nearby city or even a stay-cation in your own town. Just travel!

Trust me-adventure is out there. You just have to make up your mind and go!

xoxo,

Megan

The Wisdom of Mister Rogers

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Best known for wearing his lovable sweaters and always singing, “It’s a beautiful day in the neighborhood,” Mister Rogers connected with many people throughout the world with his kind and comforting personality.

Born on March 20, 1928, famous television personality Fred Rogers lived his life as a musician, writer, producer, puppeteer, and Presbyterian minister. Rogers went into television because, as he once stated, “he hated it,” and didn’t like what programs were currently on TV. After graduating from college, he worked at NBC before returning to his native Pittsburgh to work at a local television station. During this time, Rogers developed The Children’s Corner, went to seminary and the University of Pittsburgh’s Graduate School of Child Development. After Pittsburgh, in 1963, Rogers went to work at the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation and the idea of a show about Mister Rogers was born.

From 1968 to 2001, Fred Rogers was a staple on American television, hosting Mister Rogers’Neighborhood. Through895 episodes, Mister Rogers welcomed everyone from all walks of life into his home. Regular neighbors of Mister Rogers were the “Speedy Delivery” man Mister McFeely, Lady Aberlin, the baker Chef Brockett, and the singing policeman, Officer Clemmons, plus more. In addition, famous guests visited the neighborhood, including Bill Nye the Science Guy, the Dance Theater of Harlem, and marine biologist Sylvia Earle. According to the official website of MisterRogers’ Neighborhood, the show “took us by hand and together we learned about ourselves, others, and the world around us.” For many people throughout the world, that statement rings true.

Throughout the decades, Mister Rogers gave the world many lessons about friendship, being confident in ourselves, understanding our feelings and the world around us. In addition, his wisdom related to the topics of helping others, welcoming and valuing everyone, and appreciating our similarities and differences. Lastly, Mister Rogers taught his viewers to wonder, explore, and be curious. He showed us that we should be open to new experiences and that it is okay to talk about difficult subjects. For these lessons, he consulted with Dr. Margaret McFarland, a well-known child psychologist, who helped Mister Rogers make sure his scripts were in line with true concerns and feelings of children.

These messages, such as the ones below from the many quotes by Mr. Rogers, will always resonate with people:

  • “Love and trust, in the space between what’s said and what’s heard in our life, can make all the difference in this world.”
  • “In every neighborhood, all across our country, there are good people insisting on a good start for the young, and doing something about it.”
  • “We all have different gifts, so we all have different ways of saying to the world who we are.”
  • “We live in a world in which we need to share responsibility. It’s easy to say, ‘It’s not my child, not my community, not my world, not my problem.’ Then there are those who see the need and respond. I consider those people my heroes.”
  • “When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, ‘Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.’”

The wisdom of Mister Rogers will continue to influence many generations to come. Think about how we could change the world if we all put these messages to use in our own lives and the lives of those around us. Imagine what would happen if we told people the same statement Mister Rogers said at the end of every show: “You’ve made this day a special day, by just you being you. There’s no person in the whole world like you; and I like you just the way you are.”

xoxo,

Megan

Cheerwine Cupcakes

This is a favorite recipe for many and a popular one, so I’d thought I would post it again! Plus, is there anything better a cup of ice cold Cheerwine? Don’t know what Cheerwine is?  The beverage is a cherry soft-drink, founded in North Carolina. Trust me, it is a must-try!

This soft-drink has multiple uses, including being made into quick and easy cupcakes!

Ingredients:

Cupcakes:

  • 1 box white cake mix
  • 12 ounces Cheerwine
  • 1/8 teaspoon cherry flavor
  • Maraschino cherries
Frosting: 
  • 4 cups Cheerwine
  • 1 cup butter, softened
  • 2-3 cups of powdered confectioner sugar

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350ºF. Line cupcake pans with liners and set aside
  2. Whisk together cake mix, Cheerwine, and cherry flavor. Pour into prepared pans and bake according to package instructions. Cool completely.
  3. In a saucepan, boil down the Cheerwine until it has reduced to 1/2 cup.
  4. In a mixer, cream butter and 2 cups of powdered sugar on medium speed. Slow speed to low and add Cheerwine reduction. Increase speed to high and beat until light and fluffy, adding additional sugar if needed.
  5. Pipe frosting onto cupcakes and top with maraschino cherries.

Enjoy!

xoxo,

Megan

Calling All Teachers

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Are you a teacher? Do you love sales?

I’m hosting a 20% off sale on my Teachers Pay Teachers store! All products are discounted from February 26th – 28th. Now is the time to stock up on classroom management and inspirational tools.

Click on the “store” link at the top, then the Teachers Pay Teachers logo to be redirected to my store: Miss Taylor’s Classroom.

Want to see a specific activity or tool? Let me know and I’ll create it!

xoxo,

Megan

Why We Should All Be Celebrating Mondays

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Have you ever had a case of the Sunday scaries? You know, the time you realize on a Sunday night that Monday is coming? According to research, two-thirds of the population state that Monday is the worst day of the week. And why not? It is the start of a new week, the start of several continuous days of work and errands, and many days until the next weekend. In addition, research shows that people put pressure on themselves to start something new or quit something. Let’s face it, we all have said “we’ll start Monday.” However, we can change that. We can change the way we think about Mondays and can make them one of our favorite days of the week. In fact, people across social media and online are already celebrating Mondays.

Recently, I read the book The Pepper Effect: Tap into the Magic of Creativity, Collaboration, and Innovation by Sean Gaillard. This novel is meant for educators and included lessons on how to implement the ingenuity and imagination of The Beatles into schools. Throughout the book, Gaillard touched on many topics, including why we should celebrate Mondays. After a quick Google search on the idea, I discovered that many people had already taken part in this concept.

For Gaillard, celebrating Mondays started with a desire to create bigger professional learning networks for teachers, while utilizing social media. To do this, Gaillard developed the hashtag #CelebrateMonday. Its purpose is to start each week with positivity and highlight the activities teachers are doing throughout the community, as well as, teaching children to be responsible citizens online. Essentially, it is all about recognizing the good things happening in the world of education and sharing them with others world-wide. Since then, many people, mainly in the educational community, have been using the hashtag and starting the week off on a good note.

As for those who aren’t teachers, principals, or school administrators, there are still many ways we can celebrate Monday. After all, don’t most people dread the start of a new week and count down the days until Friday? Referring back to my Google search, I noticed one particular site that put a new perspective on the concept. Writer Marc Seigel posted on his blog, A Flipped Approach, the article “Let’s Start Celebrating Mondays.” In this post, Seigel stated that the second day of the week is a fresh start and a clean slate. In addition, he added the image with the caption “T.G.I.M.” – thank goodness, it’s Monday. Usually, you say this for Friday, but have you ever thought about saying it for Monday? It might be time to start. Speaking of starting, T.G.I.M. is quickly rising in popularity, thanks to the lifestyle website, Thrive Global. This site has started the social campaign to change people’s way of thinking.

There are many opportunities for people to alter their attitude towards Monday. Start thinking of the day as a new beginning of a new week. However, don’t forget to celebrate your accomplishments and your goals. For example, celebrate Monday by looking at how far you came the previous week or how much you have accomplished on a tough goal. Ease the pressure of the day; it is just another day of the week. Another idea is to celebrate those around you. Give your co-workers a high five in the lunch room or tell someone you are proud to be their friend or ask them about the best thing that happened the week before.

Monday blues don’t have takeover your week. Instead, kickoff the next seven days with a celebration. Overtime, more and more people will begin to start celebrating Mondays and before you know it, Mondays will be the best day.

xoxo,

Megan

Recipes for Homemade Cleaning Products

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There has been much discussion about whether or not cleaning products are safe and healthy for homes. Most are filled with toxins and chemicals that could cause harm to your family and furry friends. For example, some products warn you to keep them away from animals, due to the odor and/or the ingredients. If the item has this type of warning, it may not be safe to use in your home. However, there are ways to make your own cleaning products with materials you probably already use, such as baking soda and vinegar. Creating your own allows you to feel safer and more in control of what your family and animals are breathing in, while you still have a sparkling clean house. Here are just a few of the recipes for homemade cleaning products. For these recipes, make sure you are stocked up on baking soda, vinegar, and spray bottles (available at Dollar Tree stores).

All-Purpose Cleaner 

Ingredients:

4 Tbs. baking soda

1 quart warm water

½ cup white vinegar

Directions:

Mix all ingredients together. Pour into a spray bottle or dip a sponge into the mixture. This all-purpose cleaner is great for use on kitchen counters, appliances, and more. The baking soda acts as a deodorizer and takes away smells. In addition, you can add a lemon rind, rosemary sprigs, or drops of an essential oil to add a scented smell to the all-purpose cleaner. 

 Glass Cleaner 

Ingredients:

2 cups water

½ cup white or cider vinegar

¼ cup rubbing alcohol (70% concentration works best)

1 to 2 drops of an essential oil of your choice for smell (optional)

Directions:

Combine all ingredients and add into a spray bottle. Don’t spray the cleaner directly onto the glass; spray onto a towel or cloth first. Let’s just say—move over, Windex!  This natural glass cleaner is perfect to take away streaks and make your glass items look like new.

 Heavy-duty Scrub

Ingredients:

Half a lemon

½ cup borax

Dip the lemon into the borax and put directly onto the surface. Then, rinse. It is never fun to keep scrubbing rust stains on porcelain and enamel areas when nothing happens. This heavy-duty scrub will take away those stains in no time at all.

Fabric Softener

Ingredients:

5½ cups water

15-oz. bottle of your favorite hair conditioner

2½ cups white vinegar

20 drops of your favorite essential oil (optional)

Directions:

Mix all ingredients together and store in an empty container. Whenever you are doing laundry, add in about ¼ cup to a normal-sized load right before the rinse cycle.

 

Disinfectant Wipes:

Ingredients:

1 cup water

¼ cup vinegar

8 drops tea tree oil

8 drops eucalyptus essential oil

8 drops lemon essential oil

15-20 squares of cloth

Empty container, such as an old baby wipe container

Directions:

Fold and place the cloths into the container and set aside. Combine all ingredients together in a mixing bowl, making sure to mix well. Pour mixture over the cloths and let soak. Whenever needed, the disinfectant wipes will be ready to use. Make sure to repeat as often as needed to keep the wipes moist.

One final tip to leave you with is to use lemonade Kool-Aid as a toilet bowl cleaner. Just flush, sprinkle in the Kool-Aid and scrub with a toilet bowl brush. Then, let sit overnight and flush in the morning.

These five recipes are just a handful of the multiple examples out there. A quick search on the Internet will reveal different homemade cleaners with different purposes.

xoxo,

Megan

Celebrating Valentine’s Day at School

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February 14th is a day full of love, and there are many ways to celebrate with your loved ones, especially your kids. Multiple activities are available to create excitement around Valentine’s Day at home and at school. However, it can get overwhelming deciding on the perfect Valentine for your child to send to their classmates. To help ease some of the stress of finding the right Valentine to send to school, below are some ideas for you to use.

  • It is common to send a card and candy with your kids to give to their classmates, but sometimes that can get a little confusing, especially with food allergies. If you are going this route, double-check with your child’s teacher and/or other parents to scope out what type of food allergies are in the class. Easier types of candy to include are chocolate or conversation hearts. Don’t be afraid to branch out from doing traditional candy. Popcorn, pretzels, and cheese puffs are great ideas, as well. One of my favorite ideas is attaching a bag of lifesavers to the card with the caption, “Your friendship is a lifesaver.”
  • Candy or food doesn’t have to go with the card. Instead, try adding a colorful pencil, small notebook; a fun toy, such as a Hot Wheels car for boys and a bracelet for girls; or a miniature animal or Legos. Let your child decide on the cute treat to include with their classmates’ Valentines.
  • Most kids love doing arts and crafts. Create a small DIY project for a Valentine. Provide the materials and instructions on the card or a decorative tag. Take it up a notch and let the students make the craft project during their Valentine’s Day party at school. Arrange this activity by talking with the teacher or party coordinator. They will thank you for taking care of this element. Plus, it is an interactive, hands-on way to engage kids in celebrating the day. A quick Internet search or trip onto Pinterest will give you multiple projects for all ages. Remember to scout out projects where you can purchase the items in bulk, such as construction paper and popsicle sticks. Plus, if anything needs to be cut out, go ahead and prepare that for the classmates. When giving Valentines to a class, it is never okay to leave a student out. Think about materials you can get in quantities from 20–35. The “Bumble bee on a Stick Puppet” activity is a perfect example. All you need is:
    • Paper – yellow, black, and red for the antennas.
    • Black marker
    • Glue dots
    • Popsicle stick
  • Then, cut out two circles in yellow paper, about 2and 1½” wide respectively, for the body and head. Attach the smaller circle, the head, to the bigger one with a glue dot. Using the black paper, cut two or three ¼”-wide and 5″-long strips for the bee’s stripes. Attach to the body with glue dots. Cut off any excess black from the body and place it on the back of the head as the antennas. Create a small flower of red out of the red paper to attach to the top of the antennas for a pop of color. Then, add the bee’s stingers with small black triangles to the body. Then, turn the bee into a puppet by gluing the insect to a popsicle stick. Lastly, add some decoration, personality, and a cute face to your bee. Ta-da!
  • Other fun ideas to make into Valentine’s Day gifts include watercolor paints, bubbles, finger paint, Play-Doh, glow sticks, fake tattoos, and coloring pages.

Valentine’s Day is a sweet holiday whose meaning is centered on love. These ideas are awesome in helping to bring the holiday’s meaning to school with your kids. Just remember the goal is to make the Valentine’s Day fun, creative, and exciting for the receivers.

xoxo,

Megan

7 Ways to Make Time for Yourself

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Let’s be honest with ourselves – life is busy. The days are filled with work, family, errands, appointments, and more. Sometimes we become stressed and tired, especially if we spend more time caring for others and neglect caring for ourselves.

Whether it is five minutes a day or an hour a week, make it a goal this new year to add self-care into your schedule. Some of the many self-care ideas are below. However, it is important to always choose an activity that is fun and relaxing for you.

  1. Exercise: Take a walk, join a gym, or participate in a fun class at the Y. Being active is good for your mind, body, and spirit. Research suggests aiming for at least 30 minutes of exercise per day. Don’t consider yourself too busy to exercise. If 30 minutes seems too much at one time, break it into smaller increments. Try 10 minutes at a time and then build up to adding 30 minutes into your daily schedule.
  2. Schedule a digital detox: We are attached to our electronic devices and rely on them most of the time. However, when we are dedicated to a screen, such as our phones or computers, we are detached from those around us and from ourselves. Make it a priority to devote an hour or two per day to place your devices in a different room and not to touch them. Then, try it for an afternoon or whole day during the weekend. Think about it – don’t you feel stressed out by constantly checking your emails, looking at social media profiles of others, comparing your life to theirs? The more time you spend away from your device, the more time you’ll feel relaxed and more confident in your own life.
  3. Develop a new hobby just for yourself: One of the main things in self-care is making sure you are putting yourself first. It isn’t a time to feel guilty that you aren’t taking care of others or indulging in something you normally won’t do. It is a time to better yourself, so you can be a better person for your loved ones. A way to do just that is by developing a new hobby or restarting one that you had given up, one that is just for yourself. Maybe it is reading a book each night, sewing, coloring in a coloring book, or listening to a podcast. A hobby should be something you enjoy and want to do in your “me time.”
  4. Declutter: For me, I can get stressed out when things are all over the place and in a mess. To help with that, decluttering and cleaning up is the key. Every now and then, declutter a certain area in your home. It might be changing your wardrobe every three months and giving away pieces of clothing that you haven’t worn in a long time. Or you could use five minutes of each day to tidy up a corner of a room until it is done. When things are in place, our minds are calm.
  5. Educate yourself and learn something new: If you or a loved one are dealing with an illness, major life change, etc., research the situation and learn about all the different elements of how you are able to help. Sometimes being in the know about something takes away a great deal of stress. Also, learn something to broaden your horizons. Have you always wanted to learn another language or how to do a special skill? Now is the time.
  6. Change things up: Take a different route to work or go to that new restaurant you have always wanted to try. It is pivotal to have a routine, but every now and then, be spontaneous and try something new. An example could be making each Friday night the night to do something different. Do a new activity with your family and friends each week.
  7. Reward yourself after accomplishing a small or difficult task. Overcoming all types of obstacles should be celebrated. Reward these times with a pedicure, going to a fancy store, etc.

Self-care needs to be a priority for everyone and a part of a person’s to-do list. Find something that helps you and don’t feel bad taking the time to focus on you. As mentioned above, self-care makes you a better person.

xoxo,

Megan