May Peace be with You

maxresdefault

Happy Sunday! I hope the day and week ahead are filled with peace. Whatever struggles you are facing, may God bring you strength and courage.

xoxo,

Megan

Advertisements

How to Keep a Prayer Journal

Processed with Rookie Cam

In the movie The Help,one of the main characters, Aibileen, discusses writing down her prayers at one part in the film. It’s a good bet that Aibileen is talking about a prayer journal. This unique type of journal is a way many people communicate their prayers to God. It is a treasured notebook that allows people to reflect on what is on their hearts.

To keep a prayer journal, you don’t need to be a writer, you don’t need to write a page or more, and you don’t need a large amount of time to channel your thoughts. Keeping a prayer journal and writing down your prayers can be as simple as five words and five minutes per day. It can, however, be challenging to get started. But by following the tips below, it will be as easy as riding a bike.

  1. Use one journal and one journal only. It can be tempting to have multiple journals. Maybe you have one for only prayers and another for writing down your daily thoughts. A quick tip is combining the two into one. A prayer journal doesn’t have to be a specific notebook, just for prayers. It can include your daily reflections, life happenings, and prayers. This is a timesaver, as well. You aren’t switching between books and stopping and starting. Everything is in one place and there is easy access for you to spend more time in thought and prayer.
  2. Journal everything. Many times prayers are questions we ask God. Yet, some prayers can be thoughts, praises, and more. Channel your thanks, questions, dreams, and answered prayers. One of the things that makes journaling special is being able to look back and see what has happened in your life and how God has influenced it.
  3. Choose a time that works for you. It might be writing first thing in the morning or last thing before bed. You don’t have to spend an hour, penning a book. Five minutes works for some people and an hour works for others. This habit should be comfortable and not stressful. It is meant to be a relaxing, no pressure way to unwind. The amount of time you spend writing might change day to day, and that is okay. Also, think about how many times per day, week, month you want to journal your thoughts and prayers. Keeping a prayer journal shouldn’t be a burden; it should be a joy. Create a plan that works for you and stick with it, but be flexible for changing your schedule when needed.
  4. Find a place that is sacred to you. This spot may be inside or out, but it should be an enjoyable and cozy place that allows you to get in the mindset for time in prayer and journaling. Try to avoid distractions while in this area.
  5. Always start your time in prayer. God will lead your thoughts and prayers during your reflection. Ask Him for the peace to explain what is on your heart and mind. There is no right or wrong answer for what you should and shouldn’t write. Grammar and spelling can be thrown out the window. Don’t be afraid to be honest and give it all to God. Just remember to be specific with what you are praising, asking for, etc.
  6. Relate your thoughts to scripture. When you are writing, it is helpful to have access to a Bible. This gives you a chance to refer back to and add in scripture to your prayers, if needed. Also, you are able to read as you write.

Writing in a prayer journal can be a special habit to develop. It is a moment to channel what is going on in your world and ask God for guidance. It is a simple task that can make a big difference in your life.

xoxo,

Megan

A No-Spend Month? Budget, Please!

no-spend

It happens to most of us – overspending one month and not having enough money for the next. There are many ways to alter your budget to fix this problem. One of those solutions is having a no-spend month. That’s right, you don’t spend money on anything, but the necessities. You might be thinking, “How can I do that?” Continue reading to find out.

  • First, keep it simple. Try giving up only one luxury for the month. This tip is especially important for starting out. For example, try avoiding shopping for clothes, shoes, etc. for a whole month. This can be a drastic change, and it is best to start with what you are most comfortable with in terms of eliminating expenses. If you feel like giving up multiple expenses for the month, start with decreasing one at a time. Maybe it is the coffee you get on the way to work each morning, or maybe it is cooking dinner at home for a whole week, instead of eating out. Then, build up the amount of purchases you eliminate, until you aren’t spending money on unnecessary expenses by the end of the month. Lastly, you can also alter the time frame for how long you are doing this undertaking. Give it a go for a week. If that works, add on another week and so on. The main idea about the no-spend month is to truly keep it simple. Do what works for you and the plan won’t fail.
  • One option to help motivate you to stick with the no-spend month is to set a goal or give yourself a reason to save up for something. You might be wanting to add an X amount of money to your savings account for the future, or you might want to contribute a certain amount to your favorite cause or organization. This challenge can get tough. It is helpful to have a big picture in mind as to why you are doing this task.
  • Can it be a complete no-spend month? Yes and no. You need to still pay the bills and will have to do some planning ahead of time for the other expenses, such as groceries, gas, toiletries, etc. Think about this goal in terms of not spending money on things that can be considered “luxury” items. Do you really need a new pair of shoes this month? Do you need to see the latest movie in the theaters or can you wait until it is available to rent? There is no exact way to have a complete no-spend month because things happen and expenses come up. Just don’t go overboard on buying items that aren’t needed at that time or could wait another month or so for purchasing. For the needed expenses, try finding deals before spending the money.
  • Use what you have at home before going shopping. This is huge for groceries and toiletries. Remember that pantry full of products or extra shampoo you bought some time ago? Use those items first before purchasing more. Get creative and cook some fun meals for you and your family. You never know what will taste good together until you try it. As for the unused toiletries just sitting there? Think about the money you spent on purchasing those items. Not using the product is really wasted money. Another option is utilizing the items to make other items. For example, low on household cleaning products? Make a homemade version. Most DIY cleaners take ingredients such as vinegar, baking soda, lemon juice, and dish soap. Recipes can be found through a quick online search.
  • Stay at home, instead of going out. Date nights and family nights don’t need to be nights on the town. Try spending a day or night at home, watching your favorite movie, reading a classic book, cooking a meal together, playing a game outside, or doing absolutely nothing, but relaxing. There is no shame in spending a day or night at home. Plus, it puts more money in your pocket. If you feel the need to get out of the house, spend your time doing free things in your community, such as taking a walk in a park or volunteering.

A no-spend month can be tough. Create a plan and stick with it. Know exactly where you need to spend money and where you can save. At the end of the month, you might be surprised by how much money you saved.

xoxo,

Megan

Must-Have Party Ideas for the Fourth of July

LS019546

The Fourth of July is commonly associated with fireworks, barbeques, and parties. Planning events, especially for holidays, is one of my favorite things to do. If you are hosting a patriotic get-together that is going to be all red, white, and blue for July 4th, I’ve got some ideas you don’t want to miss.

Decorations: 

When one thinks of decorations for a Fourth of July party, one probably automatically thinks of anything red, white, and blue. For tables, use a tablecloth that is either red-and-white checkered, blue-and-white checkered, or a plain color. Take it a step farther and use bandannas. All you need to do is sew together red, white, and blue bandannas, enough to cover your table or to make a table runner.

As for centerpieces, there are many options you can create. One example is using flowers in jars. Choose white flowers, such as daisies, and place in clear jars, filled with water. Using food color, tint the water in one container with red dye and another with blue. This simple arrangement is just another way to include some patriotic zest to your party decorations.

Lastly, banners, bunting, and streamers are perfect additions for tables, ceilings, fences, and more. Colorful fabric and paper can be used for the designs, and don’t forget about the flag—a must-have at any Fourth of July extravaganza!

Food: 

A party isn’t a party without tasty food! Offer your guests a wide variety of choices, from sweet and salty to healthy. Watermelon, bananas, strawberries, and blueberries are your go-to fruits. One of the cutest ways to serve them is by crafting Fourth of July Fireworks Kabobs. First, take a star-shaped cookie cutter and cut out pieces of watermelon into stars. Then, use a skewer and place the watermelon star on one end and follow up with blueberries. Another fun idea is utilizing fruit slices and making an American flag on a plate or serving tray.

A common staple at Fourth of July parties are hot dogs and hamburgers. Staying with the fireworks theme for food, treat your family and friends to Firecracker Dogs. All you need to do is wrap uncooked crescent dough around a hot dog and cook until done. Then, place onto a skewer with a star-shaped piece of cheese on top.

Desserts and sweets are always a must, and s’mores are the perfect touch. Want something cool to eat in the hot weather? Take ice cream sandwiches and roll the edges in red, white, and blue sprinkles. The key with food is for all dishes to be simple and easy to eat, whether you’re standing up or sitting down. You don’t need to have a full five-course meal, but you do need to make sure you have all parts of a meal available for guests. Remember always to include something fruity, something veggie, something sweet, something salty, and something hearty, such as a meat, and refreshments.

Music: 

There are many patriotic jams to play during the festivities. A few favorites to include in your playlist are:

  • “Born in the USA” by Bruce Springsteen
  • “Party in the USA” by Miley Cyrus
  • “God Bless the USA” by Lee Greenwood
  • “Sweet Home Alabama” by Lynard Skynard
  • “It’s America” by Rodney Atkins
  • “Only in America” by Brooks and Dunn

Games:

Classic games, such as cornhole and ladder golf, are always a hit at Fourth of July parties. However, there are ways to bring the holiday spirit into other games, as well. Lead your guests on a patriotic scavenger hunt. Some items to look for: a picnic basket, an American flag, something red, stars, streamers, and sparklers.

Since it is summer, include outdoor games. One suggestion would be to paint a twister board on the grass. Use the spinner from the board game and have fun. Also, host challenges, such as a watermelon or pie eating contest. Attendees will love getting in on the party action. Plus, great memories will certainly be made!

Party Favors:

Give your guests something to take home and remember the event. Many people like to hand out sparklers, but this can be a little tricky with multiple ages at the party. A creative idea is deconstructed s’mores in bags with a tag, commemorating the day. In addition, you could fill favor bags with candy that is red, white, and blue. Some options are M&Ms, lollipops, and Hershey’s kisses.

The Fourth of July is a day full of fun. Enjoy the holiday by having a party for your family and friends. Don’t know where to start?  Use the tips above. These ideas will help you remember the real reason for the day.

xoxo,

Megan

Throwback Thursday, Recipe Style!

Happy throwback Thursday to one of my favorite recipes: Key Lime Cheesecake with Strawberry Sauce!

——————-

FW108-Recipes

Talk about a yummy recipe that is perfect for all year long!

Ingredients

  • 2 cups graham cracker crumbs
  • 1/4 cup white sugar
  • 1/2 cup butter, melted
  • 3 – 8oz. packages of cream cheese, softened
  • 1 1/4 cups sugar
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 – 8oz. container sour cream
  • 1 1/2 tsp grated lime rind (lime zest)
  • 1/2 cup Key Lime Juice (recommend Kermit’s Key Lime Shoppe juice; order online only)

Preparation

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Stir together first three ingredients and firmly press on the bottom and 1 inch up the sides of a greased 9-inch springform pan.
  3. Bake crust at 350 degrees for 8 minutes; cool completely. Reduce oven to 325 degrees.
  4. Beat cream cheese at medium speed with an electric mixer until fluffy; gradually add 1 1/4 cups of sugar, beating till blended. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Stir in sour cream, rind and juice. Pour batter into cooled crust.
  5. Place in 325 degrees oven and bake for 1 hour and 5 minutes; turn the oven off. Partially open the oven door; let stand in oven for 15 minutes. Remove from the oven and immediately run a knife around the edge of pan, releasing the sides.
  6. Cool completely in pan on a wire rack; cover and chill 8 hours. Garnish with strawberry slices, blueberries and lime rind.

Strawberry Sauce

Ingredients

  • 1 1/4 cups fresh strawberries
  • 1/4 cup white sugar
  • 1 1/2 tsp lime rind
  • 1 tsp lemon juice (or more to taste)
  1. Process all ingredients in a food processor until smooth, stopping to scrape down the sides.
  2. *Sauce should be a bit tangy, but not overwhelmingly so.
  3. Drizzle over the top slices of the cheesecake when serving.

Raspberry Sauce (alternate)

Ingredients

  • 1/2 jar seedless raspberry jam
  • 1/2 cup fresh raspberries, halved
  • 1 Tbsp lemon juice
  1. Cook all ingredients over medium heat, stirring constantly so the sauce cooks but doesn’t stick. Once the jam turns into a liquid, remove from heat and cool, then refrigerate. Drizzle over slices of cheesecake when served.

Enjoy!

xoxo,

Megan

Why I “Work Smarter, Not Harder”

FW46-WorkSmarterNotHarder

Every day I try to use the motto “Work smarter, not harder.” Everyone has their own definition of this phrase, but it generally means using your thinking skills to minimize tasks and extra steps, so that you use your time wisely and more effectively to get things done quickly. For example, instead of putting something off that would take five minutes or less to complete, do it immediately and move on to the next task.

The main purpose behind the “work smarter, not harder” motto is that you, as the individual, are able to prioritize your own needs and build upon your strengths and weaknesses. You are able to visualize what you need to focus on, see if there is anything you can cut from your workload or lifestyle, ask for help if needed, and figure out how you work in the quickest and most effective manner possible. Everyone has their own answers and meaning to the motto. Now, the question is: how do you work smarter, not harder? Take a look below to see some of the tips on how you can put this motto to use in your life.

  1. Move and work in blocks. Instead of working hour after hour, divide up your work into equal sections. For each section of your to-do list, change up your location for working, whether it is inside, outside, or at home. The most important thing is to not set exact time limits for when you’ll finish a certain section, but to move when you have a certain section finished. Be sure to take a quick break or a fast walk to refresh yourself after each task.
  2. Check your email first thing. This is mainly where I get the bulk of my to-do list. See what items you need to prioritize and get those done first. Then, move on to the smaller tasks that will take less time to finish.
  3. Communication is key. Collaboration and communication can either make or break a project. Communicating effectively with other team members will help eliminate any mistakes or misunderstandings, or having to rework parts of the project.
  4. Don’t multitask. As much as we love to do so, multitasking can actually cause more trouble (and work) than needed. Stay focused on one task at a time and complete that task before moving on to the next.
  5. Create a routine and stick with it. When it comes to your work, to be more effective and efficient, it is best to try and do most of it at the same time each day. According to research, when we establish routines, our brains become in the habit of completing the task over and over again. Pretty soon, you’ll be able to accomplish a task quickly with less preparation. Essentially, you do the job on autopilot.
  6. Relieve stress. When you are stressed, it can be hard to achieve anything on your to-do list. Let’s refer back to tip #1. The breaks between the sections of time will help you ease your stress and stay calm while working. Also, having a clear mind allows you to think through your task and helps prevent mistakes and misunderstandings.
  7. Use your “GPS.” In her book, It’s About Time! author Mitzi Weinman explains GPS as “goal, purpose, and scope.” According to Weinman, this system can be used to get the whole picture and how you need to accomplish it. For example, you can see a task completed and then envision the various steps needed to completing it. Also, “GPS” can help you set goals for each of those steps until it is done (goal). Always ask yourself “why” we are doing something and how it fits into the larger goal (purpose).

“Work smarter, not harder” is a motto everyone should try at least once in their lives. Give it a shot – you might happily discover you are able to get more done in a shorter amount of time.

xoxo,

Megan

Dear Mom, Thank You and Happy Birthday

FW20-DearMom

Today is my mom’s birthday! In honor of her special day, I decided to share an article I wrote for the May issue of Forsyth Woman. 

Dear Mom, Thank You:

On Sunday, May 13th, many people will honor their mothers and grandmothers. Every year on Mother’s Day, we celebrate the women who have raised us and taught us about life. Mothers spend time teaching their children, cleaning up after them, staying up all night when a child is sick, and making sure we have food to eat and clean clothes to wear. Growing up, they were our chauffeurs, chefs, nurses, cheerleaders, and life planners. No child will ever understand what a mother goes through for 18 years, all the worry, joys, and tears. One of the biggest things a mother does for her child is teach them lessons about life. These lessons are different and vary from family to family. We also learn knowledge from our grandmothers. Most of this knowledge has been passed down through the generations and is timeless.

I was raised by the hardest working single mother I know. She always made sure my sister and I had what we needed, even if it meant she went without certain things. Growing up, we lived with my grandparents. To me, my grandmother is more than just a grandmother. She is an inspiration, just like my mother. There are many lessons that these two women have passed down to my sister and me, and I have picked out a few of my favorite to share below.

  1. Always say “I love you.” One time I remember being on the phone in the same house as my mom. We were in two different rooms at opposite ends of the house. As we hung up, she said “I love you.” I didn’t think much about it at that time, because it was a common phrase we said as we hang up phone calls. However, thinking back, this little phrase can mean the world to someone and make someone’s day. It is a little phrase one can say at any time to just show someone they are thinking about them.
  2. Always celebrate birthdays. My mother goes all the way for birthdays. She decorates the house with a theme, days before the actual day, allowing the birthday person more time to enjoy it. Go overboard for this person because, after all, it is just one day a year and everyone deserves their special day.
  3. Always stay strong and never give up. I could write a book about all the trials and tribulations my mother and grandmother have gone through and are still standing. My 85-year-old grandmother is a two-time cancer survivor and stroke survivor. Her doctors call her the “energizer bunny.” Their actions are perfect examples to always keep going, no matter what life throws at you, and that you are stronger than you think.
  4. Organization is the key. My mother is always organized with everything she does. On the other hand, I am not. I’m always learning ways to keep my papers, forms, and life in order from my mother. There is no shame in color-coding, having separate notebooks, and a place for everything in the house.
  5. Family comes before everything. My family is very close-knit and I wouldn’t have it any other way. After my grandfather passed away, my grandmother, mom, sister, and I relied on each other for strength. We have an unspoken motto that whenever someone battles anything, we battle it together. They are “my tribe.”

I am lucky to have a mom and grandmother who are also my friends. My mom is one of my best friends and I know nothing will change that, no matter how many times we disagree and see things differently. Like my grandmother, my mom is my role model and one of the strongest women I’ll ever know. Because of that, thank you Momma!

Happy Mother’s Day!

xoxo,

Megan