Bring 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 it 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
  • Paintbrush
  • Sealable gallon-sized bag or container

Directions: 

  1. Using the paintbrush, 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

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Contact Lens Safety: A Refresher of What You Should Know

The history of contact lenses dates back to 1508 and Leonardo da Vinci’s idea of “wearing a water-filled hemisphere over the eye,” first published in his book, Codex of the eye, Manual D. Since then, designs have evolved and the version of contact lens that is mostly similar to today’s lenses actually originated in 1949. In fact, President Lyndon B. Johnson was the first President to appear in public wearing contact lenses in 1964. Today, over 150 million people worldwide wear these thin lenses over their eyes for therapeutic, corrective, and cosmetic use. While contact lenses serve great purposes, they need special care. October is Contact Lens Safety month and the perfect time to refresh ourselves on the safety and importance of taking regular care of your contact lenses. Improper maintenance can lead to increased risks of eye infections. Most of the following tips are from the CDC and FDA.

  • Clean and disinfect your lenses daily. There are many types of contact lens solutions available. Use a solution that works for you and follow the appropriate instructions. Most eye doctors suggest using a solution with hydrogen peroxide, which provides extra disinfecting. However, as a contact lens wearer myself, it is important to read the instructions for hydrogen peroxide solution, as you can’t wear your lenses for several hours while cleaning. For example, you can’t put them in the solution and place them in your eyes an hour later. Also, never reuse solution. Lastly, if you wear hard contact lenses, once you have taken them out, rub the lens carefully with the solution, and rinse well before placing them in the case.
  • When removing and putting in your contacts, always wash your hands with soap and water beforehand. Dry completely. This practice erases the germs from your hands and avoids getting them in your eyes.
  • No matter what solution you are using, replace your storage case at least every three months or as stated by your eye doctor or solution instructions. For me, every time I open a new bottle of solution, I change my case. This is due to the fact that I am using the hydrogen peroxide base.
  • Don’t expose your contacts to water and always remove before swimming or showering.

This past summer, I read an article on the Today Show website about a man who developed a parasitic infection and lost sight in his right eye after showering with contact lenses. This is an extreme example, but still shows what can happen and serves as a warning.

  • Unless told by your doctor, don’t wear your lenses overnight or while sleeping. The darkness of night causes extra stress on the cornea and reduces the amount of oxygen to your eye, drying them out and making them more susceptible to infection.
  • If you start experiencing symptoms of irritation or infection, remove your contacts, and wear your glasses. If needed, call your eye doctor immediately. Symptoms to be on the lookout for include: excess tearing, discomfort, unusual sensitivity to light, itching, burning, blurred vision, pain, swelling, or redness. I often have dry eyelids that cause an urge to rub my eyes. When this happens, I choose glasses instead of contact lenses. Plus, it never hurts to have a pair of glasses available as a quick backup; just be sure they are also up to date with your prescription.
  • Speaking of prescriptions, visit your eye doctor yearly to keep up with your eye health. This way, you won’t be wearing contacts or glasses with old prescriptions.
  • Contact lenses are normally worn by adults. Children can use this type of eyewear but should take extra caution. Parents and guardians should play an important role in encouraging safety and health behaviors to maintain contact lenses.

I love my contact lenses and don them almost every day. However, I know, like most people, this wouldn’t be possible without practicing these tips. One easy way to remember to take care of your contact lenses is the CDC’s slogan: healthy habits = healthy eyes.

xoxo,

Megan

Explore the Seven Wonders of the World at Home

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There is nothing better than seeing awe and wonder in a child’s eyes. Whether it is seeing a new site, experiencing a cool activity, or finding an amazing item, the joy of learning can easily be seen and felt. There are many topics you and your family can enjoy and learn about together, including the classic seven wonders of the world. Before continuing on, let’s take a look at what is included in the list of the seven wonders. Over time the Seven Wonders have changed. The newest list was created in 2007 after more than 100 million people voted to name the “New Seven Wonders of the World,” which are below:

  1. The Great Wall of China in China
  2. Christ the Redeemer Statue in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
  3. Machu Picchu in Peru
  4. Chichen Itza (The Yucatan Peninsula) in Mexico
  5. The Roman Colosseum in Rome
  6. The Taj Mahal in Agra, India
  7. The Petra in Jordan

Many children and adults may not be familiar with some of these landmarks. However, there are fun and creative ways to learn about them. These activities are hands-on and can be done on a rainy afternoon, a summer day, or a weekend of learning at home.

  • Take a virtual field trip on Google Earth to the Seven Wonders. Visit earth.google.com/web and search the various places. Then, zoom in and out and explore the landmark’s history. You can also learn about the “Seven Wonder of the Ancient World” by searching the website of The Museum of UnNatural History (http://unmuseum.mus.pa.us/wonders.htm).
  • Create a passport or scrapbook with pictures and facts about each wonder. In addition, Photoshop pictures of your child in front of the site to help make the experience come alive. Other options include putting together a tourist guide book, brochure, advertisement, or newspaper. Let your child take on different roles and careers to learn about the famous site. There are many avenues you could take with this activity.
  • Make a physical version of the landmark. For example, use paper, markers, and paper towel or toilet paper rolls to build Christ the Redeemer Statue or create the Great Wall of China with Legos. Common materials that could be used are clay, construction paper, salt dough, rocks, and fabrics.
  • Instead of making a physical object, design something digital, such as a video, commercial for the Seven Wonders, etc. Use sites like iMovie, WeVideo, and Prezi and let your children’s imaginations run wild with creativity. Plus, you can even create an at-home green screen and digitally replace the background with the wonder.
  • Study about the culture, cities, and countries where the wonder is located. Research the area’s climate, food, music, arts, historic sites, and more. Then, celebrate that wonder by bringing it and its home country to life. The more vivid and hands-on experience children can have when learning about the Seven Wonders of the World, the better they’ll be able to remember and retain the knowledge they’ve learned.

Word searches, puzzles, and quizzes/challenges are more, interactive ways to connect history to a wonder. Also, children of all ages love coloring pages. Plus, it shows children another visual/picture of the site. For printables, visit https://www.thoughtco.com/new-seven-wonders-of-the-world-printables-1832308.

These ideas are perfect ways for children and students at school to learn about the Seven Wonders of the World. There is so much of the world that we don’t know about. The earlier we start exploring these areas, the more global a child can be.

 

7 Reasons Why You Should Write

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Life can be hard. It can be confusing. It can also be comforting. Every now and then, most people find a way to relax and let go of their emotions and thoughts. Some will take walks, others will have a conversation with a friend, while many will write and journal. Writing doesn’t mean you have to sit down and publish a book. This habit takes on various forms, depending on the writer. One day you can be creating a story that’s been in your mind, the next day you are creating a list of your hopes and goals, and lastly, you are writing down characteristics about a passed loved one you miss. Once a pen hits a piece of paper, or a person’s fingers hit the keyboard, a powerful thing occurs. Plus, there are health and lifestyle benefits to writing. If you have been wanting to journal and haven’t known where to start, let me persuade you with a few facts, as well as some tips and tricks.

  1. You will eliminate stress. Don’t we all want to get rid of at least a little bit of stress in our lives? By journaling, you are creating a clear list of everything you are worried about, therefore, allowing those thoughts to come out of your head. In addition, it helps you to see what you are stressing about and whether or not you actually need to be stressing about them. Something in our heads may seem big when, in reality, it is tiny.
  2. You’ll gain a sense of awareness of your reality. Our minds can only take so much before they “explode.” Just like with stress, writing down what you have on your mind, what you are going to complete, achieve, and how you feel, will help you realize who you actually are and what you are feeling. Plus, writing down your thoughts will assist you in making better decisions.
  3. Between gaining a sense of reality and eliminating your stress, writing makes you happier. Researcher Laura King stated in the article “The Psychological Benefits of Writing” that keeping a gratitude journal will increase your happiness and health because you are able to focus more on the good things in life.
  4. Periodically journaling your thoughts, daily life, and memories soon become a historical record for you to keep year after year. Some people fill notebook after notebook with their writings.
  5. A common reason for people to write is to channel and understand traumatic events, as well as hard memories. Journaling about your difficult times can help you realize the feelings and emotions you might have held in. However, studies have found that it is best to wait until about six months after the event for the benefits to sink in; otherwise, you could become more depressed. It is also important to note that this type of writing shouldn’t be forced; let it flow.
  6. Journaling can make you a better learner. Writing does take time and thought. You sometimes have to be in a zone to put words into sentences. Yet this creative outlet lets you express ideas and encourages critical thinking. In return, you are more introspective, explore more interests, and are more willing to dive deeper into ideas.
  7. One final benefit of writing is that it can keep your mind in shape. This habit motivates your brain to stay sharp and can help protect against Alzheimer’s and dementia.

The power of writing, whether it’s every day or a couple of times a month, can have a big benefit on your health. Also, it is a creative way for self-care, putting yourself first, and clearing your mind.

xoxo,

Megan

Midweek Motivation

Happy Wednesday! If you are like me, you can sometimes fall into a midweek slump. This slump is composed of tiredness and stress. To overcome it, I recite inspirational quotes throughout the rest of the week. These affirmations give me the strength to press forward and stay strong. So, I thought I would share some of my favorites with you.

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xoxo,

Megan

7 Remedies to Use When You Are Sick

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School has only been in session for less than a month. Yet, the first round of colds and viruses have arrived. As a teacher, it is hard to stay immune to all the germs and I now have a lovely cold. However, after using these seven home remedies, I’m on the mend to feeling better.

  1. Salt Water – Gargling salt water can help prevent upper respiratory infections and decrease the severity of cold symptoms. Dissolve 1 teaspoon of salt in a full glass of water. Swish around in mouth and throat. Then, spit it out.
  2. Warm Baths – Take a warm bath with Epsom salt and baking soda. Cold and flu symptoms and body aches can be reduced with the warm water. Also, try adding a few drops of essential oils for a soothing effect. Some options are tea tree, juniper, rosemary, lavender, or eucalyptus.
  3. Heat Up Your Sinuses – Hold a hot pack or hot washcloth to your sinuses for a few minutes. Reusable hot packs can be purchased at drugstores. Be careful to not make the pack too hot.
  4. Honey – A spoonful of honey before bed helps decrease nighttime coughs.
  5. Cinnamon – Naturalists loved this spice, because of its healing effects, such as easing a dry or sore throat. Boil one teaspoon of cinnamon in a glass of water and drink. For an extra effect, mix it with pepper powder and honey.
  6. Take Vitamin C – You can get a dose of vitamin-C through a supplement or foods, such as citrus, green peppers, dark lefty greens, and kiwi fruit.
  7. Lemon – The acidic effects of lemons help eliminate bacteria from mucous membranes. Chopped one lemon into half and keep the skin on. Place in a boiling cup of water and let it steep for a few minutes. Inhale the steam.

Use these home remedies whenever you feel under the weather and you’ll feel better soon!

xoxo,

Megan

The Top 3 Best Historical Novels for Young Adults

I’m a history buff. My interest in history started when I was young and has continued to grow. I love to visit historical sites, read historical books, and watch historical films. Since my love began when I was young, I believe it is important to expose children and young adults to what has happened in the past. One way to do this is by letting them read historical books. For this month, I have gathered some of my beloved historical novels for young adults.

Chasing Lincoln’s Killer by James L. Swanson

This biography by James L. Swanson brings young readers the story of President Abraham Lincoln’s assassination and the capture of his assassin, John Wilkes Booth, and Booth’s co-conspirators. Swanson uses archival material, trial manuscripts, primary sources, and interviews of the time period to bring the twelve-day manhunt of John Wilkes Booth to life. In addition, readers are given pictures and facts about those involved, the important locations, such as Fords’ Theatre, as well as, newspaper articles and advertisements from April 1865. Chasing Lincoln’s Killeris geared towards young adults, sixth grade and older. However, it is also a favorite among adults. I read the novel this past summer and learned facts about this important time period in American history that I never knew. However, a great alternative for a true adult version is Swanson’s bestseller, Manhunt: The 12-Day Chase for Lincoln’s Killer.

Number the Stars by Lois Lowry

Number the Stars is a historical fiction novel based on the Holocaust during World War II. Main character ten-year-old Annemarie Johansen lives in Denmark with her family. When the German troops come to town to “relocate” all the Jews, Annemarie’s family takes in her best friend, Ellen Rosen and pretends that she is Annemarie’s late older sister, Lise. Young readers learn about another side of the Holocaust through the Johansen’s actions and involvement in the Danish Resistance. During this time, the Jewish population in Denmark were relocated to the neutral ground of Sweden to avoid being sent to the concentration camps. In fact, Lise was killed by the Nazis for working with the resistance. Number the Stars draws readers into a story of heroism and pride. It is also a tale of friendship and doing good in a time of war. Fact fun: author Lois Lowry created the title to reference Psalm 147:4. As Lowry says, “God has numbered all the stars and has named each of them.”

Hidden Figures by Margot Lee Shetterly

This #1 New York Timesbestseller and young adult read is perfect and relevant for 2019, because it has been 50 years since the Apollo 11 mission and man’s first walk on the moon on July 16, 1969. Author Margot Lee Shetterly describes in vivid details the story of four African American women making their mark in NASA history. These women, Dorothy Vaughan, Mary Jackson, Katherine Johnson, and Christine Darden, worked as mathematicians and “human computers” for NASA, meaning they created and solved equations and calculated numbers and flight paths that would send rockets and astronauts into space. Segregated at work, these women’s mathematical skills impressed their mostly white and male counterparts and allowed many of them to be promoted from human computers to engineers and computer programmers. Their careers spanned from World War II, the Cold War, the Civil Rights Movement, and the Space Race. Hidden Figures is a must-read for not just history fans, but for everyone.

From the Civil War to World War II and then to the Space Race, these historical novels cover a wide span of history and are a must-read for young adults.

xoxo,

Megan

 

13 Things I Must Do Every Fall

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Fall- my favorite season of them all and the start of the new season is almost here. Every year, there are several things I MUST do before it ends, so here is my fall bucket list:

  • Tailgate at a football game.
  • Go apple picking.
  • Buy more school supplies.
  • Watch Halloween movies.
  • Decorate with tons of pumpkins and DIY fall crafts.
  • Travel through the mountains to see the leaves.
  • Visit the county fair.
  • Carve a pumpkin.
  • Make an apple pie, apple butter, apple pie, and homemade apple sauce. (Can you tell I like apples…alot?)
  • Stuff myself during the holidays.
  • Go on a hayride.
  • Eat s’mores at a bonfire.
  • Wear a hoodie, while snuggling up with a cup of hot chocolate.

It’s (almost) fall, y’all!

xoxo,

Megan

Cherry Pie Bites

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The weekend is one of my favorite times to bake and of course, eat! However, there are sometimes I only want a taste of something sweet. A great recipe for just that is cherry pie bites. They are perfect for a few people or a large crowd. You’ll be sorry if you don’t make them soon. 🙂

Ingredients:

2 cans crescent roll dough
21 oz. can cherry pie filling
1 cup powdered sugar
2 tbsp. milk

Directions: 

  1. Preheat oven to 375. Grease a muffin pan with butter or cooking spray.
  2. Unroll and separate the crescent dough. Place one triangle into each cup.
  3. Fill all the cups with a tablespoon of pie filling.
  4. Fold the 2 shorter ends of the dough together at the top 2. Then, pull the longer end over the shorter ones.
  5. Bake for 13 to 15 minutes or until golden brown.
  6. While the bites are cooling, whisk together the powdered sugar and milk.
  7. Drizzle the glaze mixture over the bites.

Enjoy!

xoxo,

Megan