DIY Projects for All Ages

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Technology is a big part of children’s lives today. While iPhones, tablets, computers, and more can be a creative outlet, there is nothing like doing a DIY arts and crafts project with your little ones. The ideas below can be used for kids of all ages on snow days, during the summer, and at any time year-round. All of the supplies can be found in local craft stores, discount stores, or right in your own home. Don’t worry if a craft doesn’t go as planned or about sticking straight to the directions. Just be creative and have fun.

Homemade Play Dough

Supplies:

  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 cup salt
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 tsp. vegetable oil
  • 4 tsp. cream of tarter
  • food coloring

Directions:

  1. Mix all the supplies together, except the food coloring, in a large pot. Place on the stove on medium heat. The mixture will be more liquid at first, but then will form into a dough consistency.
  2. Stir continually for two minutes until the mixture completely develops into dough.
  3. Remove from heat and cool. Then, knead the dough for a few minutes.
  4. Divide into as many colors as you want and add food coloring.

 

Tin Can Wind Chime:

Supplies:

  • tin cans in different sizes
  • acrylic paint
  • paintbrushes
  • painter’s tape
  • hammer and nails
  • twine
  • scissors
  • 10” wide embroidery hoop
  • hot-glue gun

Directions:

  1. Remove cans’ labels and rinse out with hot water. Let dry completely.
  2. Paint cans a solid color, applying two coats. Then, paint designs of your choosing on the cans. The painter’s tape can be handy with making stripes and shapes.
  3. With the hammer and a nail, create a small hole through the center of one end of a can. Cut a string from the twine, thread through the hole, and knot on the inside. Vary the lengths of the twine for each can. Continue until all the cans have been nailed and twined.
  4. Wrap twine around the embroidery hoop until completely covered. Then, cut three pieces of twine to make a hanger. Tie each piece around the hoop and then bring together in a single knot at the end of the strings. Make sure the hoop hangs level.
  5. Finally, tie the cans around it, spacing evenly. Also, hang the cans at different heights, but close enough to hit each another when the wind blows. After tying the knot, add a drop of hot glue to keep it secure.

 

Repurposed Jewelry Magnets

Supplies:

  • old brooches
  • large buttons
  • old charms
  • old earrings
  • round magnets
  • hot-glue gun

Directions:

  1. Using a piece of jewelry, hot-glue a magnet to the back. Be sure to cut the round magnets to the size of the item, if needed.
  2. Place onto your refrigerator to hold artwork, reminders, report cards, and more.

 

Pool Noodle Sprinkler

Supplies:

  • foam pool noodle
  • small piece of foam
  • duct tape
  • skewer or ice pick
  • water hose

Directions:

  1. Puncture the pool noodle in multiple spots on all sides of the noodle with the skewer or ice pick. The more holes, the better.
  2. Stuff one end with a small piece of foam, and duct tape to secure.
  3. Slide the water hose into the other end of the noodle, pushing in a few inches. Then, turn water on.

 

Funny Face Flip Book:

Supplies:

  • white cardstock
  • cardboard
  • 3 metal book rings
  • hole punch
  • markers
  • scissors
  • stickers and googly eyes

Directions:

  1. Fold the white cardstock in half and cut down the middle. Then, fold the two halves in half again and cut. You should end up with four pieces. Then, cut the cardboard into the same sizes as the cardstock pieces, for a backing.
  2. Next, cut each piece of the cardstock into thirds. Punch a hole in one end of the pieces. Then, lay three pieces onto your cardboard and punch another hole in the cardboard. There should be three holes, matching up to your cardstock’s holes.
  3. Using the metal book rings, attach the cardstock pieces to your cardboard backing.
  4. Draw facial features onto each of the cardstock pieces. In the top sections, draw eyes, in the middle sections draw noses, and bottom sections draw mouths. Feel free to add eyelashes, eyebrows, teeth, etc. Get creative. Also, don’t forget to use the stickers and googly eyes.
  5. Once done, you can flip through the book, creating different face combinations.

xoxo,

Megan

 

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A Piedmont Triad Staycation

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Spring and summer are times for vacations; a break from reality and a trip away from home. However, sometimes vacations can be expensive, lengthy, and cause a lot of stress. There is one way to eliminate the possible vacation hassle and explore your own hometown—by taking a staycation.

Staycations have recently become more and more popular. According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, this new type of vacation can be defined as “a vacation spent at home or nearby.” Normally, they involve day trips to local attractions. Looking at the Piedmont Triad, my hometown, there are many places to visit on your family’s staycation. Explore the attractions in your own city and start planning your staycation with the ideas below.

Experience Life as a Moravian – Our area is rich in Moravian history, so why not take a step back in time and experience their way of life? Old Salem Museum and Gardens and Historic Bethabara Park are just two places to learn about the Moravian heritage and its impact in Winston-Salem today. Stop by the bakery in Old Salem for some delicious Moravian cookies and sugar cake.

Visit the Yadkin Valley – The Yadkin Valley has lots to offer. It is home to many wineries and vineyards, and kids can enjoy the area’s parks and recreational activities. These activities include horseback riding, biking, camping, and more!

Learn More about History and Science at Local Museums – Who says learning can’t be fun? Spend a day or more at the Greensboro Science Center, the Reynolda House Museum of American Art, Kaleideum North (formerly SciWorks) and Kaleideum Downtown (formerly The Children’s Museum). Oher museums in the Piedmont Triad include SECCA (the Southeastern Center for Contemporary Art), the Wake Forest University Museum of Anthropology, the New Winston Museum, and the Winston-Salem Cup Museum. There is something for everyone of all ages, no matter if you are a science lover or history fan.

Hike Pilot Mountain – Located in Pinnacle, Pilot Mountain State Park is the perfect place to spend some time outdoors this summer. The park offers many walking/hiking trails, camp grounds, and views of Sauratown Mountain and the Blue Ridge Mountains. There are two distinct features to the mountain, the Big and Little Pinnacles, with the Big Pinnacle also known as The Knob.

Splish Splash at a Waterpark – One aspect of summer is being in the water, whether it be at the beach, pool, or waterpark. In the Piedmont Triad, there are several places to perfect your swimming skills and have fun sliding down waterslides. The Peter S. Brunstetter Aquatic Center at Tanglewood Park in Clemmons is complete with a lazy river, lap pool, splash pad playground, and two slides. Another staycation water attraction is Wet’n Wild Emerald Pointe in Greensboro. At this waterpark, there is something for everyone, including the Soak Zone, Shipwreck Cove, Happy Harbor, and lots of water slides. Are you a daredevil with heights? If so, make sure you try the Daredevil Drop, which slides you down a 76-foot-steep water chute.

Shop till You Drop – Hanes Mall, Thruway Shopping Center, and local boutiques are just a few places for you to find that new outfit, purse, and more. With over 200 stores, Hanes Mall is one of the largest malls in the region and has signature department stores, such as Belk, JC Penney, Dillard’s, and Sears. As for Thruway Shopping Center, there’s a little bit of everything for shoppers, with the unique range of stores. Lastly, follow the “shop local” motto and visit local boutiques. A few of my favorite in the area are Penny Lane Boutique, Mainstream Boutique, and Southern Ties Boutique.

Take a Tour of Historical Places – Whether the tour is on foot or in a car, learn more about the history of the Piedmont Triad by visiting historical places. Stop at the famous shell-shaped Gas Station on East Sprague Street in Winston-Salem or visit the West End Historic District downtown. While in Clemmons, visit the Village Hall and Stagecoach, the Philip and Johanna Hoehns (Hanes) House, and the Clemmons Milling Company.

Staycations give you a chance to explore and learn more about your hometown. Take time this year to have a few day trips in the area. You’ll be glad you did!

xoxo,

Megan

My Favorite Children’s Books

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For many people, the love of reading starts at a young age, thanks to being introduced to classic children’s books. Growing up, I had multiple novels that I loved to read over and over again. To this day, I still remember those stories and the emotions they brought with them. If you are looking for a new book to share with the little people in your life, take a look at my suggestions below.

The Junie B. Jones series by Barbara Park

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“My name is Junie B. Jones. The B stands for Beatrice. Except I don’t like Beatrice. I just like B and that’s all.” This classic sentence is the opening to all of Park’s Junie B. Jonesbooks. From 1992 to 2013, this series produced almost 30 books around this fictional 6-year-old, her parents, baby brother Ollie, her grandparents, friends, and Junie B.’s stuffed elephant, Phillip Johnny Bob. The series covers Junie B.’s journey of starting kindergarten in the first book, Junie B. Jones and the Stupid Smelly Bus, to making it to first grade.Some of my favorites novels in the series are Junie B. Jones is a Party Animal, Junie B. Jones Has a Peep in Her Pocket, and Junie B. Jones Is a Graduation Girl. If you are looking for a fun-loving book series, written in the voice of a child, for the young ones in your life, Park has the perfect collection. In addition, she has written older books for middle school aged children.

The Outsiders by S.E. Hinton

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The book, The Outsiders, is another one of my favorites. It is geared towards middle-school aged children or older, but teaches many valuable lessons. First published in 1967, author S.E. Hinton describes it as a “coming of age” novel. It tells the story of two rival gangs, the working-class “Greasers” and the upper-class “Socs” and is told through the view point of Ponyboy Curtis, a teenager who is part of the “Greasers.” The Outsiders is set in 1965 Oklahoma. What I love about this novel is that it shows society that socio-economic classes and their differences are pointless and they can cause more harm than good. The Outsiders is filled with themes of bridging the gap between the poor and rich, standing up for those who can’t, and the interactions between people. Many students read this novel in school, but if you haven’t, I recommend you do so. Also, fun fact: Hinton starting writing The Outsiders at the age of 15 and was only 18-years-old when the book was published.

There are many classic children’s books out in the world. People have their favorites that they read over and over again. One of the best things, however, is when the love of a children’s book is passed from generation to generation.

xoxo,

Megan

Care for the Caregiver

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November is National Family Caregiver month. Each year, caregivers are celebrated for their contributions and efforts in assisting others. This month also raises awareness for the stress caregivers experience while putting others before themselves. According to the Mayo Clinic, about 1 in 3 adults in the United States are caregivers, and a caregiver can be defined as anyone actively helping others. This includes family members providing for older adults. While the job is wonderful, selfless, and rewarding, many caregivers experience emotional and physical stress. They may feel overwhelmed, constantly worried and tired, have frequent headaches, gain or lose weight, deal with depression, and become easily irritated or angry. If you are a caretaker and are showing some of the symptoms below, it might be time to reenergize. Below are some tips to help manage some of the caregiver stress.

  • Focus on how you can assist and what care you are able to provide: No one can be there to help with everything all the time. The important thing to understand is that you are doing the best you can and shouldn’t feel guilty about not being the perfect caregiver.
  • Ask for and accept help: There is no shame in asking for others to assist you. Create a list of things others can do and let them decide on the task. For example, the helper could cook dinner one night, or run an errand. You never know who will lend a helping hand until you reach out.
  • Find support for yourself: Most communities have caregiver resources. Types of aid include support groups, caregiving services (transportation, meal delivery, etc.), and health professionals. Also, stay in touch with your family and friends. Your loved ones can offer emotional support without being judgmental.
  • Practice self-care: Sometimes there is nothing better than a hot bath after a long day. Set aside time each week to focus on yourself and relax. Go for a walk each night, read a book before bed, etc. It is important to create a good sleep routine, eat a healthy diet, and drink plenty of water. Don’t forget to be physically active at least three times during the week.
  • Talk to your doctor: Before starting, make sure you are up to date on vaccines and your yearly physical. Plus, this helps establish a deeper relationship with you and your physician. That way, whenever something occurs, or you need someone to talk to, your doctor is able to offer assistance.

In addition, establish a relationship between you, the care recipient and the care recipient’s physician. Most of the time, the caregiver takes the care recipient to doctors’ appointments. Because of this, the caretaker needs to be on top of medications and treatments. Creating this relationship allows for more communication and understanding of how to better provide for the care recipient. If needed, prepare questions before the appointments to make sure the caregiver understands the care recipient’s healthcare plan. Lastly, don’t be afraid to call nurses or doctors with any questions or concerns.

If you are a caregiver and feeling stressed, try some of these activities. Remember to take time for yourself and relax. After all, you can’t take care of others without taking care of yourself.

xoxo,

Megan

Day 1: An Update

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Back in October, I gave a life update on the new journey I was taking. Now, several months later, I decided it was time to provide you with another update.

Life hasn’t truly gotten easier. In January, we had another health scare with my grandmother. At 84-years-old, she got the flu and pneumonia. Hearing the doctor say “she might become one that succumbs to the flu” scares you to death. The two weeks she was in the hospital was full of emotions and prayer. Thankfully, I’m happy to report she is now 85-years-old and went into her first store since December this past Tuesday. Let me tell you, that woman is as tough as nails.

As for my job with the magazine, due to recent budget cuts, my position was eliminated. Yes, I am sad, because this means a decrease in income each month, but I’m also comforted. I’m comforted in thinking that I’m on the edge of finding my passion and what I am meant to do. You may know that I’ve been in graduate school, getting my teaching degree. This past spring, I have been student-teaching and loved every minute of it. Those students were so inspiring and made me want to come to work every day. Along with teaching, I feel as if I will spend this summer and the months afterward doing more of what I love. God only knows where life will take me and I’m confident in His plans.

During October to December, I healed from the stress of my grandmother’s stroke and grief of my dog’s, Gidget, death. Now, I am using these summer months to heal and find myself. In these past few months, I have been grieving; grieving for things in life I may never have and grieving for things I’ll never have again. My depression and anxiety have taken hits in my daily life. Now, I’m going to heal.

Some say writing things publicly makes your commitment to them stronger. Whether that is true or not, I’m going to share the ways I want to heal. I want to write, I want to design, I want to read, I want to take pictures, I want to paint, and I want to go for walks. Darn it; I want to sit and watch a whole movie without doing anything else. To be honest, I can’t remember when the last time was I did some of the things listed above. Life has been busy, and I’m grateful for being given the opportunity to manage work, student teaching, and school. However, I’m ready to sit, listen, and heal.

“I’m choosing happiness over suffering. I know I am. I’m making space for the unknown future to fill up my life with yet-to-come surprises.” -Elizabeth Gilbert, author of “Eat, Pray, Love.” 

xoxo,

Megan

Link to “Day 1” post: https://metaylor.com/2017/10/06/day-1/ 

 

A Look Back at 2017

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As I look back at another year, I realize 2017 was full of ups and downs. I started working towards my graduate certificate in middle grades education and are now getting ready to be in the classroom. I have been given excellent writing and leadership opportunities at Forsyth Magazines. There has been tons of love and laughter; however, there has also been a good deal of heartache.

My grandmother had a stroke back in September. Yet, praise the good Lord, she is now completely back to normal. I learned the reason why she had a stroke. It was to diagnose her cancer, which is now treatable with daily medicine. If we discovered the disease at a later time, who knows what would have happened. My doggie, Gidget, spent the year battling health problems. At 17 years old, she had her good and bad days, until she passed away in my arms in October. Lastly, I experienced my scariest morning and night. The morning was when I saw my grandmother have her stroke and waited for the ambulance to arrive. The scariest night was when Gidget passed away in my arms. I have never experienced that level of grief and I’m still processing my new life, months later.

2017 was a year of discovery. I learned more about the person I want to become and how I can help change the world. Gidget taught me more about love and how to believe in more than what I can see. Little signs related to her appear all the time and I know it isn’t coincidental. My anxiety and depression diagnosis gave me the chance to learn more about mental health and become an advocate for mental illnesses. It is okay to not be okay. I have a better understanding and grasp of what is going on in my mind and how to handle it. These struggles helped my family grow closer and man, are we stronger. Nothing is going to keep us down.

I’m ready for what 2018 holds, because I know 2017 has prepared me for whatever life throws at me. I am brave. I am strong. I am loved. Here’s to another year. God bless it.

xoxo,

Megan

 

 

Happy Thanksgiving!

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Thanksgiving is a beautiful time. We are given a designated day to express gratitude and reflect upon the many blessings we have been given. I am grateful for my family, friends, and of course, my dedicated readers! Be sure to stop and give thanks today for what you have in life and celebrate being with those around you.

From my family to yours, a very happy Thanksgiving! And eat everything you want, because after all, this day only comes once a year.

xoxo,

Megan

A Memorable Family Reunion

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Every year in June, my family, extended and immediate, gets together for a family reunion. At this reunion, there is a lot of family fellowship, food, and fun. This year (this Saturday!), our reunion is a very special one. It is the 50th-anniversary of our family reunion. Fifty years ago, my family started coming together every summer to reconnect and spend time with one another. Throughout this past year, we have been planning many fun and new ideas to make this reunion very memorable. If your family is having a reunion, take a look at the ideas below for to how to plan a memorable event for all ages.

Start Planning Early: Once you know you’ll be having a reunion and the date, start planning all of the details for the event. Think about whether or not you want a theme, where the reunion will be held, the food, etc. When deciding on the event’s location, think about special places for your family. These places could be a member’s house or even a vacation destination. Try to plan at least a year out and involve other family members to help get things organized. Don’t forget about games, decorations, and favors. Also, if the reunion involves traveling to a destination or another member’s house, think about how you want to handle the travel arrangements and accommodations, as well.

Get the Word Out: You can’t have a family reunion without your family there. Once you know the date of the reunion, go ahead and send out “Save the Dates.” Also, you can include surveys or ideas for members to send back on what they would like in a family reunion. Then, closer to the event, about a month or so in advance, send out official invitations. Be creative and make the invitations special and unique to your family.

Food: There are a few different food options for a family reunion. First, you can have it catered and save some stress for family members. Another option would be to have a potluck, where members make their favorite family recipes. Always include desserts to end the event.

Take-Home Gifts: It is always nice to include a take-home gift for your family members. These gifts don’t have to be big, and could be a bookmark, a T-shirt, or a small favor bag. Want something bigger? Create a family tree or family cookbook. In the cookbook, add favorite family recipes, pictures, and stories. You could also create small scrapbooks for each family member.

Games and Activities: An important part of a family reunion is having games and activities for all ages. Depending on where your event is held, some games could be: relay games and races, scavenger hunts, board games, and family Olympics. Carnival games are also popular. For family Olympics, family members can compete in rounds of corn hole, bocce ball, Jenga, Twister, and more. Award medals to the winners. As for activities, craft projects are favorites among the various generations. Other ideas are: family bingo or trivia or a “Blast from the “Past, in which family members take trips to the old houses where the grandparents grew up, former schools, and other places down memory lane. Let grandparents and/or kids share stories from the past or funny anecdotes about another family member. Lastly, create a family video with pictures and clips from the past years. Collect these items while planning the reunion and show the finished product at the event.

Pictures: How many times are year do you see your extended family members? Use the time together to make memories and take tons of pictures. These photos can be pictures staged in a photo shoot, or candid snapshots. Display with your decorations the family reunion pictures throughout the years to see who has, or hasn’t, changed.

A family reunion is meant to be a memorable time, and planning for the event can be enjoyable. Be sure to get everyone’s input and make it special and unique to your family. However, the most important part of a family reunion is to have a good time with your family members.

xoxo,

Megan

 

My Fall Bucket List

My favorite time of the year is upon us – Fall! I love all the decorations, sights, and smells season. In addition, I have my annual traditions I must do, including the ones below:

  1. Take a drive/walk to see the fall foliage: We live within driving distance of the Blue Ridge Parkway and can make an easy day trip to see the colors of the season. Another way to take in the views is simply driving around your hometown and surrounding areas. Or walk through downtown, parks, or Old Salem to experience the beautiful scenery.
  2. Attend a fall festival /fair: Once I go to the Dixie Classic Fair, I know fall has arrived. Other events include the Autumn Leaves Festival in Mount Airy, Harvest Day at Old Salem, and the Apple Festival at Historic Bethabara Park.
  3. Bake: Apple pie, pumpkin pie, homemade apple sauce, caramel apples, the list goes on and on for all the delicious fall foods. One of my favorite things is baking during the season. Don’t know what to bake? A simple google search or Pinterest will bring up hundreds of recipes. Just a hint: pumpkin chocolate chip cookies are delicious.
  4. Go to a pumpkin patch: There is nothing better than finding the perfect pumpkin to carve. Hawks Pumpkin Patch on Clemmonsville Road and The Farm at The Children’s Home are favorite local pumpkin patches.
  5. Carve a pumpkin: Do you like a friendly face or a scary face? It’s up to you, because after you get that perfect pumpkin from the pumpkin patch, you can take it home and carve it. Growing up, we always carved a pumpkin and also painted one. Let your kids have fun with creating their favorite book or cartoon character by using paint, markers, yarn, and other craft supplies on the pumpkin.
  6. Decorate for the holidays: Many stores throughout the area have been selling fall and holiday decorations since the middle of summer. Seeing these items always gets me into the decorating mood. Take one Saturday and turn your house into a fall oasis. Some of the decorations can even become DIY projects, such as this fun scarecrow. All you need is: one shirt, one pair of pants, a hat, old pillowcase for face, old newspapers, safety pins, narrow rope, small amounts of straw, raffia, or dried grass, and permanent markers or felt scraps for the facial features. Button and zip the shirt and pants and tie the ends of the arms and legs with the rope. Stuff full with newspaper and use safety pins to attach the two pieces of clothing at the waist. In the pillowcase, add stuffing and form into the size and shape of a face. Use the permanent marker or felt to create facial features. Tuck into the neck of the shirt and secure with safety pins. Add the hat. To finish, stuff some straw or raffia into the openings (such as arms and legs) and glue if necessary.
  1. Watch Halloween movies: Freeform’s (formerly ABC Family) 13 days of Halloween is the perfect place to start your Halloween movie marathon. To make the marathon complete, watch older fall movies, such as all-time favorite Hocus Pocus. You can’t get through the season without watching It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown at least once.
  2. Watch football: No matter who your favorite team is, it’s the time to root for them. High school, college, pro – everyone has a favorite. Let’s just hope the Carolina Panthers have as good of a season as they did last year! Super Bowl LI material? I think so! In addition, spend some time outside with your family and friends playing your own game of football.
  3. Jump in a pile of leaves…and then rake them up: Fall is one of the seasons to be a kid again and with being a kid comes the chance to jump in a pile of leaves. However, the adult responsibility sets in when you have to rake them up afterwards.
  4. Go trick or treating: Who doesn’t love putting on a costume and being someone else for a while? Halloween gives you a chance to step outside of the box and do just that. Plus, if you go trick or treating, you’ll get candy. Another option would be dressing up and handing out goodies to children that stop by your house on All Hallow’s eve.
  5. Have a bonfire: What better way to celebrate fall than with a cup of apple cider and s’mores in front of a bonfire? Bundle up with your hats and scarves. Gather your family and friends as you toast to the new season.

xoxo,

Megan