A Delicious Look into Cookbook Book Clubs

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Book clubs have been around for decades and have introduced the love of reading to many people. However, there is a new type of book club that is gaining in popularity – a cookbook book club. Basically, it is a book club where attendees bring food. The premise behind this type of club is attendees choose a recipe from a cookbook, prepare the dish, and bring the dish and the cookbook to the meeting.

Steps to Beginning 

  1. The first step to starting a cookbook book club is deciding on the logistics of the club. Think about who will join, family and friends, where you’ll meet, and when you’ll meet. Will the club meet at the same place at the same time or will it rotate between members’ houses and dates? Also, organize how you’ll pick the cookbooks. For example, is each attendee going to be making recipes from the same cookbook or different ones? Try to get at least 5-10 members, so you’ll have enough attendees to showcase a wide variety of dishes. Be careful your club isn’t too small or too big – remember you are going to be eating, so there will be some cost involved in preparing the meals. Lastly, all members don’t have to be culinary geniuses. This is a time to share dishes, as well as cooking tips and tricks with others.
  2. Next, plan your inaugural meeting. Remember to set your date and location. Then, choose your cookbook, if you decide to use one cookbook for all members. Your next step is to send out invitations, printed or digitally. You could even create a group on social media for members to communicate. If you decide on members choosing their own books, this is a great avenue for attendees to say which cookbook they are using for that meeting.
  3. Associate meetings with themes. For example, host a meeting that is family favorite recipes from tried and true cookbooks or only dessert recipes. You could also assign a meeting to honor a famous chef. Maybe it will be the Barefoot Contessa night and attendees will choose one of her cookbooks and prepare a dish.
  4. One of the benefits of having a social media group of attendees is that it allows for better organization of the group. There is generally more cost involved with this type of book club, compared to your traditional one; create a list on the group or in a google doc for members to list what they are bringing, in regard to recipes, plates, cups, napkins, and silverware. All responsibilities shouldn’t fall on the meeting’s host, unless otherwise decided upon in the club. Also, members can discuss recent recipes and cookbooks within the club when a meeting time isn’t near.
  5. Don’t forget about the drinks. It can be as simple as having bottles of water for everyone. It can also be as extravagant as bringing new drink recipes to share. This element should also be discussed with your club’s online group.
  6. Think about ways to make the meetings interactive and fun. Of course, food makes everything more fun, but also include possible games and conversation starters. Try going around and having members share why they chose a particular cookbook, or recipe, and their process for making the dish. You can take it a step further and focus on a single dish per meeting. For example, each member could host the event and choose the dish. Then, at the meeting, attendees will prepare the dish together and receive copies of the recipe.
  7. Speaking of recipe copies, always have them for members to take home. This is especially important if the recipes come from different books. However, if you chose to use one cookbook per meeting, share the book between members. That way, every member won’t feel as if they have to purchase the various cookbooks for each meeting.

There is nothing better that brings people together than food and a cookbook book club does just that. Ease your members into this new concept by letting them prepare dishes from a cookbook they have at home and then let your creativity run wild. There is no rhyme or reason, rules or laws to what a cookbook book club should entail.

xoxo,

Megan

Simply Southern Hush Puppies

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Hush puppies – one of my favorite Southern foods! Now, you can make them yourself using this simple recipe!

Ingredients: 

3/4 cup self rising flour
1 cup self rising corn meal (not mix)
1 large egg, lightly beaten
1 small onion, finely minced 
1 pinch garlic powder
1 pinch onion powder
1 pinch old bay seasoning
1 Tbsp sugar
3/4 to 1 cup buttermilk
Canola oil for frying

Directions:

1. In a large mixing bowl, mix together flour and cornmeal. Add egg, onion and spices. Add buttermilk and stir with fork just until blended. Mixture should be farily stiff. Add a little bit more buttermilk, if necessary.
2. Heat oil in deep fryer to 375 degrees. Drop dough by teaspoons into hot oil and fry until hush puppies rise to the top and are golden brown. Remove from fryer and drain on paper towels.
Enjoy!
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

Appreciation for the Unsung School Heroes

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You might be wondering why I am writing an article about teacher and school appreciation days when a new school year has just begun. The reason is because a school’s faculty and staff works hard from the first day of school to the last day, and then some. They are dedicated to changing students’ lives and helping them to become the best version of themselves. Their commitment shouldn’t be remembered only during holidays or Teacher Appreciation week; it should be remembered all year long.

When it comes to thanking those who have made a difference in your child’s education, most of the time, parents only think about the teachers, administrators, and guidance counselors at school. However, it takes everyone at a school to “keep the show going.” Some faculty and staff members go unnoticed when it comes to school appreciation. Don’t know whom you should thank or exactly how to? Below is a list of faculty and staff members and fun ways to acknowledge them, that won’t cost you an arm and a leg. Don’t feel as if you have to include everyone on the list. Choose one or two and make their day special. Rotate the individuals throughout the year.

Faculty and Staff Members:

  • Administrators, such as the principal, vice-principals, instructional facilitator, and testing coordinator.
  • Teachers, teachers’ aides, and student teachers.
  • Office workers, such as secretaries and registrars.
  • Guidance counselors.
  • School nurses.
  • Cafeteria employees, including the cafeteria manager, cooks, and servers.
  • School custodians.
  • Bus drivers.
  • Crossing guards.
  • Librarian and media center staff.
  • School social workers.
  • Volunteers.
  • Coaches and referees for the sports teams.
  • School resource officers.

Ideas:

  • Everyone loves food! Drop off a breakfast of muffins, bagels, and fruit in the middle of the school year. Leave it in the teacher workroom for everyone to enjoy. It doesn’t have to be only breakfast. You can also bring in a variety of pick-up snacks or lunch items. Another option is to host an ice cream bar after school or at the beginning of a staff meeting.
  • Bring in tissues, hand sanitizer, or other first aid supplies to teachers and nurses during the second semester. From my experience, by the time late April hits, tissues are now in the form of a toilet paper roll.
  • A simple handwritten note from your family or student(s), expressing their gratitude for the school employee’s service. There is power in words. Sometimes a letter from a student to the crossing guard can make a difference. Another option includes sending a note to a teacher who was “caught” caring and going above and beyond.
  • Become a volunteer at the school. This way, you’ll be in the know on what you can do to help. It is important to not let this opportunity overwhelm you. Sometimes parents think volunteering at their child’s school means lots of time and effort. That isn’t so. Volunteering for as much time as you are able to give still makes a difference. Ways to contribute include creating copies of assignments, needed paperwork, etc. Also, you can assist in the office, answering phone calls, shelving books in the media center, or helping set up sports practice.
  • Randomly deliver fresh flowers, boxes of candy, or a surprise gift card. A five-dollar gift card is very much enjoyed.
  • Splurge on a monogrammed or personalized item for the staff or faculty member. Teachers love “From the desk of…” notepads or sticky notes.
  • Help repaint the inside of the building. You may notice the teacher’s lounge is looking a little old or the bathrooms need a fun mural. Also, spruce up the grounds outside. Assist in pulling weeds, adding mulch to different areas, or cleaning up the playground, fields, or track.

The seven ideas are a sampling of the many ways to recognize staff and faculty members. Be creative with your gifts and keep in mind, you don’t have to spend a fortune. An act of gratitude, no matter how big or small, will mean a great deal and go a long way.

xoxo,

Megan

Tips and Tricks to Going Device Free

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It’s the norm now—most people always have some sort of technological device in their hands, most of the day. Whether it is a cell phone, iPad, laptop, or anything else, technological devices are a part of everyday life. People have grown accustomed to using them, and to an extent, are dependent on them. There are many benefits to technology and using these devices, such as writing this article on my laptop. Yes, I could write it by hand, but using a laptop is less time-consuming (and easier to delete mistakes). Other advantages are improved communication. Many people have a cell phone and can easily call family and friends, or call for help, if necessary. Also, technological devices give us instant access to news and information, an opportunity to network socially (individually or for businesses through social media and websites), and the ability to share ideas, pictures, and more through various apps and websites.

However, even with all the advantages of using cell phones, iPods, and other devices, there are also disadvantages. These drawbacks include a feeling of social isolation and distraction when you’re with loved ones, at work, or watching an event. They can also put a strain on your eyes, especially when looking at the screen’s lighting in the dark. While it is always tempting to use some sort of electronic device, it is good to give them a break now and then. Going device-free can be a challenge. You might have to find new ways to communicate and watch movies, for example. However, you’ll be glad you took this challenge and spent some time away from technology. Don’t know how to get started? Below are some ideas for going device-free.

  • Start small and have a device-free meal with your family and friends. Everyone involved makes a commitment to laying down their electronics and putting them in a space away from the table and kitchen. Place a basket or designate a spot for all the devices to go. Then, start talking to get people fully distracted from their devices. Ask questions, play games, or share ideas to get the conversation going. In addition to meal time, take this idea a step further. Try having device-free holidays, device-free small trips, and more. This simple act can help family members and friends get closer and spend more time together.
  • Another tip to easily break up with your device is by seeing how many times you use it. Apps, such as Checky, keep track of how often you use your device. This app helps prevent people from looking at their phones, because it drains the phone’s battery. According to Dr. David Greenfield, with The Center for Internet and Technology Addiction, it can seem counterintuitive to check your phone when you are trying to use it less. However, recording how much time you are spending on your phone and how many times a day you’re checking it lets people become aware of how problematic their cell phone use is. Set limits for yourself and your usage. Try to spend no more than 90 minutes per day or 15 minutes at a time.
  • Also, set limits on social media. Determine a time, day, or a full weekend when you don’t post or check your social media accounts. This can be hard at first, but soon it will become a habit. Dr. Greenfield states, “There’s this idea that if other people don’t know you’re doing something, it has no value. This means we spend more time documenting what we’re doing, instead of living our lives.” Instead of Snapchatting your trip to Disney World and Facebooking your pictures of your Friday night concert with friends, take a few pictures to remember the moment, but don’t spend the whole time with a phone in your face. As Ferris Bueller once said, “life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.” If you’re feeling extra daring, delete your social media apps for a full-on break. Reactivate your accounts when you feel as if you are relaxed and reenergized.

Going device-free gives you the opportunity to focus on things that are important in your life. It gives you the chance to reconnect face-to-face with family members and friends, and experience moments in life through your eyes, instead of a screen. Going device-free will become a habit, and you’ll learn to depend less and less on your electronics to get you through the day.

xoxo,

Megan