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

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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

Always Be Prepared when Severe Weather Hits

You hear the weather reports. You see others rushing to the store and grabbing milk, shovels, and extra water. Severe weather can strike throughout the entire year, with different seasons bringing various types of storms. Sometimes we are given notice well in advance of an approaching weather event; other times, it is only a few days. Anticipating emergency weather is stressful enough, but having to prepare for it, as well, can be overwhelming. Stay one step ahead of the game and keep supplies on hand for severe weather. Don’t know what you need and when? I’ve got all the details.

The Internet has a plethora of information on how to handle weather and emergency events. Some of the most suggested essentials to have ready include:

  • Tub, bag, or storage area for your supplies that should be easily accessible. Place a list of items within the container on top for easy reference;
  • Water—it is suggested to have one gallon of water per person per day;
  • Food—have non-perishable items for at least a week;
  • Battery-powered or hand-crank weather radio and an NOAA weather radio;
  • Flashlights with extra batteries;
  • First Aid kit and emergency reference information, such as a First-Aid book;
  • Extra batteries for all sizes;
  • Whistle to signal for help;
  • Dust masks—these masks help with protecting yourself from contaminated air and damaged housing;
  • Moist towelettes;
  • Garbage bags and ties;
  • Tissues and toilet paper;
  • Wrench or pliers—the tools can be used to turn off utilities if needed;
  • Manual can opener;
  • Local maps—because sometimes a GPS doesn’t work when a disaster occurs;
  • A charged cell phone with chargers and a backup battery;
  • Prescription and non-prescription medications;
  • Glasses and contact lens solution;
  • Infant formula or food;
  • Extra pet food and water;
  • Sleeping bag or warm blanket for each person in your family;
  • Extra clothing for everyone in your house. Make sure the items are appropriate for the climate and weather. Also, don’t forget about rain gear;
  • Fire extinguisher;
  • Personal hygiene items;
  • Paper plates, cups, and plastic utensils;
  • Candles and matches in a waterproof container;
  • Important documents;
  • Plastic sheeting and duct tape, in case you need to create a wall;
  • Cash—hidden in a secret place until needed;
  • Winter shovels and gear;
  • Books, cards, and games to help take your mind off things.

When it comes to important documents, this paperwork should be stored in a water- and fireproof container. The documents in that box should be vital records, medical documentation, financial and legal information, emergency contact numbers, and personal items. Examples are listed below:

  • Birth, marriage, and divorce certificates, including anything needed for adoption or child custody papers;
  • Passport;
  • Drivers’ licenses;
  • Social security cards;
  • Pet ownership papers and identification tags;
  • Housing agreements;
  • Vehicle documents;
  • Financial obligations, such as bills, loans, etc.;
  • Account information;
  • Living wills;
  • Sources of income;
  • Insurance policies;
  • List of medications, immunizations, allergies, and prescriptions for all family members and pets;
  • Medical power of attorney information;
  • Contact numbers for medical specialists, employers, churches, social service providers, insurance companies, repair services, and aid agencies, such as the Red Cross;
  • Irreplaceable family mementos, such as photos, keepsakes, artwork, and jewelry.

The items listed above are universal for any type of situation, from a major snowstorm, hurricane, tornado, etc. In addition, it is important to have a plan about what to do, where to go, etc. That way your family will know what to expect—for example, if you are stuck inside your house without power for a few days or flooding occurs. Of course, these are just suggestions and you can narrow down the supplies to what are mostly needed for the normal weather events in your area. For example, if you live on the coast, you probably don’t need the majority of supplies needed for a snowstorm but will need supplies for a hurricane.

For whatever weather event comes your way at any point in the year, it is important to be prepared with a severe weather kit. Make sure everyone in your family knows where it is located and the items inside. You’ll be thankful that you are ready when a storm hits.

xoxo,

Megan

To Inspire and Motivate: Princess Diana

22 years ago today, the world got a little bit darker. On August 31st, 1997 Princess Diana passed away in a tragic accident. Often, I will write about inspirations in my “To Inspire and Motivate” series. Today and every day, we are still inspired by Diana, Princess of Wales.

 

“Carry out a random act of kindness, with no expectation of reward, safe in the knowledge that one day someone might do the same for you.” -Princess Diana

Following the adventures of Great Britain’s royal family is somewhat a hobby of mine. How can you not love Prince Harry and the adorable Prince George and Princess Charlotte? One of my biggest inspirations comes from this family- the late Princess Diana. I don’t like to refer to the Princess of Wales as “the late,” because for many people, myself included, her legacy still lives on.

Princess Diana devoted her time to her two sons, Prince William and Prince Harry, and her charity work. Her legacy of compassion and helping others, no matter who they were, still rings throughout the world. When there was a need, the People’s Princess was always there.

For me, I will always remember the Princess through her acts of kindness and her willingness. I was young when she died and don’t really remember much of her life before her death. But, when a person’s legacy lives one long after they are gone, that is when you know they made a huge impact on the world.

Princess Diana has and will always inspire and motivate me to be kinder, more compassionate, and always lend a helping hand to others in need.

Singer Elton John perfectly summed up Lady Diana’s actions in his song “Candle in the Wind.”

“You were the grace that placed itself, where lives were torn apart. You called out to our country and you whispered to those in pain…And your footsteps will always fall here, along England’s greenest hills. Your candle’s burned out long before, your legend ever will.”

xoxo,

Megan

Failing is Okay; Just Be Sure to Learn From It

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We all have those moments where we fail, make mistakes, or things don’t go the way originally planned. Those moments can hurt. Those moments can make us mad. Those moments can also be learning experiences.

Learning from failure can be one of the toughest, yet most rewarding things a person can do. No one likes to admit they did something wrong. When you accept the fact that you made a mistake, you earn trust, respect, and learn humility.

Life is just a big growing experience. You learn, you fail, but in the end, every single experience you overcome makes you better and stronger.

As I searched for a quote about failure (thank you Pinterest) to tie up the post, I found hundreds; however, all basically stated that without failure, there can be no growth.

It’s okay to make mistakes and fail. Just don’t let them hold you down. When you fail, take a moment to stop, breathe, and then move on.

xoxo,

Megan

Yummy Hot Fudge Sauce

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While the weather may be cooling down, I’m still thinking about cold foods, like ice cream! This past weekend, I made this delicious hot fudge sauce for my friends and family. Everyone loved it, so I thought I would share the recipe with you! The yummy hot fudge sauce makes a great topping that’s not just for ice cream and is a great present (hint, hint)!

Ingredients:

  • 1 pinch Salt
  • 1 (6 oz.) bag Semi-sweet Chocolate Chips
  • 1/4 cup Sugar
  • 1/2 cup Brown Sugar
  • 1 tsp. Vanilla Extract
  • 2 Tbsp. Butter
  • 1/2 cup Half & Half

Directions:

Mix all ingredients together in a saucepan. Stir over medium heat until ingredients are melted and hot.

Enjoy!

xoxo,

Megan

An Insider’s Party Checklist

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Planning parties and making checklists—two of my favorite things! No matter how many times I plan an event, there are things I forget. Did the invitations get out at the appropriate time? Did I order the cake and other refreshments ahead of time? To make sure a party can go as smoothly as possible, it is helpful to use a party checklist. Below is a handy list for all types of festivities, which can be personalized to meet your needs.

SIX WEEKS BEFORE

  • Create your budget.
  • Choose a theme.
  • Determine the guest list.
  • Reserve your party venue, caterer, and entertainer, if needed.
  • Write down all the necessary equipment, including chairs and tables, and contact rentals.
  • Finalize the details, such as date, time, location, RSVP date, and menu.

FOUR WEEKS BEFORE 

  • Prepare your invitations and envelopes.
  • For a children’s party, ask for an updated class list from their teacher, if you are inviting their classmates.
  • Decide on games, activities, and menu to match your theme.
  • Think about items for party favors.
  • Make a shopping list of food, paper goods, and decorations.
  • If ordering food or cake, place order.

THREE WEEKS BEFORE

  • Mail invitations.
  • Purchase party supplies, at the store or online.
  • Arrange for extra help for a children’s party.

ONE TO TWO WEEKS BEFORE

  • Create a party schedule.
  • Confirm times for when extra help is arriving.
  • Purchase last-minute party supplies.
  • Design a music playlist.
  • Call those invited who haven’t responded to the invitations.

THREE DAYS BEFORE 

  • Buy food and drinks.
  • Charge necessary cameras and electronic devices.
  • Call party venue, caterer, and entertainer to confirm details.
  • Assemble activities and party favors.
  • Clean inside and outside of your home.
  • Designate areas for food, beverages, and gifts/

ONE TO TWO DAYS BEFORE 

  • Bake cake, prepare make-ahead food or pick up ordered items.
  • Decorate party venue.

PARTY DAY 

  • Finalize last-minute details.
  • Turn on the music, lighting, etc.
  • Inflate the balloons.
  • Chill beverages.
  • Assemble remaining food and set out.
  • Double-check that bathrooms are stocked with extra toilet paper and there are enough silverware, napkins, plates, and cups on the tables.

ONE WEEK AFTER

  • Send thank-you notes.
  • Post pictures to social media and send to attendees.

ALWAYS REMEMBER

  • Specify an area for boots, umbrellas, and coats.
  • Napkins (2 per person).
  • Don’t forget ice, ice bucket, tongs or scoop.
  • Paper towels.
  • Extra toilet paper.
  • Plates of all sizes (appetizer, salad, dinner, and dessert).
  • Glasses of all sizes (water, wine, mixed drink, beer, soda, and coffee).
  • If grilling, check the tank, charcoal, and lighter fluid.
  • For an outside party, remember bug spray and citronella candles.
  • Extra batteries.
  • Wine and bottle opener.
  • Garbage bags.
  • Dishwashing soap.
  • To have fun! Enjoy the food, games, activities, and mingle with your guests!

xoxo,

Megan