Happy Sunday!

.Sunday. Take it slow and give your soul a chance to catch up with your body.

Life update coming soon! But, I want to hear from YOU first.

What do you want to see on the blog? Travel posts, recipes, DIY projects, life updates? Post your thoughts in the comments. I want this blog to be as much yours as it is mine.

Thank you for your dedication to reading my blog!

xoxo,

Megan

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The Wisdom of Mister Rogers

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Best known for wearing his lovable sweaters and always singing, “It’s a beautiful day in the neighborhood,” Mister Rogers connected with many people throughout the world with his kind and comforting personality.

Born on March 20, 1928, famous television personality Fred Rogers lived his life as a musician, writer, producer, puppeteer, and Presbyterian minister. Rogers went into television because, as he once stated, “he hated it,” and didn’t like what programs were currently on TV. After graduating from college, he worked at NBC before returning to his native Pittsburgh to work at a local television station. During this time, Rogers developed The Children’s Corner, went to seminary and the University of Pittsburgh’s Graduate School of Child Development. After Pittsburgh, in 1963, Rogers went to work at the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation and the idea of a show about Mister Rogers was born.

From 1968 to 2001, Fred Rogers was a staple on American television, hosting Mister Rogers’Neighborhood. Through895 episodes, Mister Rogers welcomed everyone from all walks of life into his home. Regular neighbors of Mister Rogers were the “Speedy Delivery” man Mister McFeely, Lady Aberlin, the baker Chef Brockett, and the singing policeman, Officer Clemmons, plus more. In addition, famous guests visited the neighborhood, including Bill Nye the Science Guy, the Dance Theater of Harlem, and marine biologist Sylvia Earle. According to the official website of MisterRogers’ Neighborhood, the show “took us by hand and together we learned about ourselves, others, and the world around us.” For many people throughout the world, that statement rings true.

Throughout the decades, Mister Rogers gave the world many lessons about friendship, being confident in ourselves, understanding our feelings and the world around us. In addition, his wisdom related to the topics of helping others, welcoming and valuing everyone, and appreciating our similarities and differences. Lastly, Mister Rogers taught his viewers to wonder, explore, and be curious. He showed us that we should be open to new experiences and that it is okay to talk about difficult subjects. For these lessons, he consulted with Dr. Margaret McFarland, a well-known child psychologist, who helped Mister Rogers make sure his scripts were in line with true concerns and feelings of children.

These messages, such as the ones below from the many quotes by Mr. Rogers, will always resonate with people:

  • “Love and trust, in the space between what’s said and what’s heard in our life, can make all the difference in this world.”
  • “In every neighborhood, all across our country, there are good people insisting on a good start for the young, and doing something about it.”
  • “We all have different gifts, so we all have different ways of saying to the world who we are.”
  • “We live in a world in which we need to share responsibility. It’s easy to say, ‘It’s not my child, not my community, not my world, not my problem.’ Then there are those who see the need and respond. I consider those people my heroes.”
  • “When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, ‘Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.’”

The wisdom of Mister Rogers will continue to influence many generations to come. Think about how we could change the world if we all put these messages to use in our own lives and the lives of those around us. Imagine what would happen if we told people the same statement Mister Rogers said at the end of every show: “You’ve made this day a special day, by just you being you. There’s no person in the whole world like you; and I like you just the way you are.”

xoxo,

Megan

A Lazy Friday


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I’m a workaholic. I work most of the time and have to keep myself from squeezing in a task in my spare moments. Yet, today I’ve decided I’m not going to do anything, except rest, relax, and recharge. And, you know what? So far, it has been great.

My day has been filled with laying on the coach, watching T.V., and eating leftovers. The only “work” I have done has been online shopping. The beauty of being lazy is that it helps a person become a better person, because you are able to refuel and ease some of your stress. It is a type of self-care that everyone needs to do.

While you may be spending hours in store lines today, make sure to take some time being lazy and enjoying the day. Trust me, you’ll feel better and stronger to take on the holiday chaos.

xoxo,

Megan

North Carolina BBQ 101

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Some people like Eastern, while other people prefer Lexington. Wondering what I’m talking about? North Carolina barbecue. This tasty food has had a longstanding history in the Tarheel State that dates back to colonial times.

According to historians, barbecue, in general, was first introduced in the Caribbean. During the 1500s, there would be island barbecues with meat, such as lizard and alligator. Shortly after, the Spanish brought hogs to the Caribbean and southeastern United States. This is when pork became the favorite meat for barbecue. As for North Carolina, influences came from the original settlers and African-Americans on plantations. Today, many people associate barbecue with their favorite style and you can’t have barbecue without a sauce.

Main Types of Barbecue:

It is said that Eastern-style barbecue (vinegar-based) was the first style in the state. It wasn’t until Heinz created ketchup and introduced it to the public at the Centennial International Exhibition of 1876, that we began seeing a difference in barbecue styles. During World War I, Lexington-style barbecue was created in Lexington, North Carolina.

Eastern-stylebarbecue is a vinegar and pepper based style with no tomato. All parts of the hog are used. There is a common saying associated with this style, which is that “every part of the hog except the squeal is used.” Originally, lemon juice was used in the base. However, since this juice was hard to find in many southern states when barbecue started gaining popularity, vinegar was substituted. Eastern-style barbecue has more of a spicy-tartness and focuses more on the actual meat than the sauce. As for Eastern-style slaw, it matches the tangy taste of the barbecue and includes vinegar. This style is mostly famous along the east coast of North Carolina.

Lexington-style barbecue (my favorite) is all about the tomato. This style is commonly referred to as Piedmont or Western style. It uses a red sauce, made up of ketchup, vinegar, and pepper and has a smokier taste compared to Eastern. The slaw mimics the tomato sauce, as well, and is called “red slaw” or “barbecue slaw.” Lexington-style barbecue is more well-known in the Piedmont and western parts of the state.

Other Styles: 

Most people are only familiar with North Carolina barbecue as being Eastern or Lexington. However, another, lesser known style involves pork ribs. The Baby Back Ribs, also called top loin ribs, are cut from the center section of the loin and are a favorite among many. Another type of pork ribs is spareribs. This style is a larger and longer rib and more flavorful than Baby Back Ribs. This style of barbecue can be found at many festivals and competitions throughout the year, including the Twin City RibFest.

Lastly, throughout North Carolina, pork meat isn’t the only type of barbecue a person can find. Chicken and beef are also favorites to serve up. In addition, there are influences from Texas, St. Louis, Kansas City, and Jamaica.

Cooking Barbecue  

The most traditional way to cook barbecue is pit style. According to historians, this technique has been used for thousands of years. A pit barbecue is an enclosed, above-ground “pit” that cooks the meat slowly over different types of wood. Some popular varieties of wood are hickory, mesquite, and oak. The smells and smoke of the wood drift up into the meat and flavor it. Also, pit style is known for producing very tender meat. An example of pit style cooking is smoking barbecue or using a smoker. There are many various ways on how to use this style, as well as types of equipment needed. The most common types are cold smoking and hot smoking. Cold smoking is used to flavor the meat and hot smoking can be defined as the meat’s cooking time.

Barbecuing versus Grilling 

Yes, there is a different between barbecuing and grilling. Barbecuing can be defined as a slower process that uses lower heat than grilling, and the food is cooked by the heat of the smoke. In grilling, dry heat is used and is applied to the food being cooked.

Barbecue has been a longstanding staple in North Carolina. Most people, from a young age, find their favorite style and it stays with them for the rest of their lives. Summer has just begun and what better time is there to have a barbecue with your family and friends?

xoxo,

Megan

Originally written for Forsyth Woman Magazine, June 2018. 

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

Originally published in Forsyth Family Magazine. 

Pizza! Pizza! Pizza!

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Did you know October is National Pizza Month? This yummy food was given its own month back in 1984 by the founder of Pizza Today magazine, Gerry Durnell. Durnell chose October as the month to recognize the famous Italian pie because the first issue of his magazine was to debut in that same month and year. As a pizzeria owner in Santa Claus, Indiana, Durnell noticed there was little public information on the pizza industry and in return, he created a national pizza-oriented magazine and national pizza month. Today, pizzerias throughout the country celebrate the delicious flatbread topped with tomatoes, cheese, meats, and veggies. However, people’s love for pizza goes back to the food’s creation in Naples, Italy in the 1700s.

History of Pizza 

The word “pizza” was first recorded in a Latin manuscript from Central Italy in the 10th century. Modern pizza, the types we know today, were created in Naples during the 1700s and 1800s. According to Carol Helstosky, author of “Pizza: A Global History,” during this time Naples was a waterfront city known for the working poor. Due to their lifestyle and occupations, the Neapolitans (citizens of Naples) needed food that was inexpensive and could be consumed quickly. The idea for pizza came about and was sold by street vendors and informal restaurants. The earliest form of pizza is Jeyoun, which takes the traditional style of pizza and adds ingredients to the dough. As for toppings, they included tomatoes, cheese, oil, anchovies, and garlic.

There are three common types of Neapolitan pizzas. The first is the more traditional Pizza Marinara. This type has tomatoes, garlic, oregano, and olive oil. Then, there is Pizza Margherita, which has tomatoes, mozzarella, basil, and olive oil. Legend has it that this pizza was created around 1889 when King Umberto I and Queen Margherita visited Naples. During their visit, they wanted a variety of pizza from the city’s Pizzeria Brandi. Their favorite type was the pizza mozzarella, a flatbread topped with cheese, tomatoes, and basil. This pie then became known as Pizza Margherita, after the Queen herself. Lastly, there is Pizza Margherita Extra with tomatoes, mozzarella from Campania, basil, and olive oil.

Italian immigrants brought pizza to the United States. Opening in 1905, Lombardi’s in Manhattan was the nation’s first pizzeria. The famous pie was also introduced after World War II when soldiers from the Italian Campaign came home. For example, Ira Nevin served in Naples and came back from war with pizza ideas. His family was in the oven business in New York, and once home, Nevin invented the first gas-fired, ceramic deck pizza oven. Thanks to his invention, pizzerias and pizza spread throughout the country.

Currently, there are several different types of pizzas and pizza restaurants, and chains are familiar sites in every city. Everyone has their own favorite piece of pie, and there is much debate as to which type is the best.

Types of Pizza

As for me, I am a little boring when it comes to my favorite type of pizza. I prefer all cheese, hand-tossed pizza and nothing else. However, there are many different toppings you can add and different crust thicknesses. Different types of pizzas include the Chicago deep-dish, New York style, the Sicilian, Greek pizza, and California pizza. Others include the Hawaiian Barbeque Chicken, veggie, and seafood. All are unique in their own way and have either thick or thin crust. You can really put anything you want on pizza as a topping. Some common ingredients are cheese, beef, pepperoni, anchovies, onions, garlic, pineapple, peppers, spinach, black olives, chicken, and ham. You can garnish your pizza with varieties of sauces, such as pesto, béchamel (a white sauce), barbeque, tomato, and salsa.

When it comes to pizza, the choices are endless. As a matter of fact, thanks to the loving nature of this Italian pie, about thirteen percent of the U.S. population eats pizza every day. Sounds like it might be time to get me a slice!

xoxo,

Megan

Article published in Forsyth Woman Magazine. 

For the Love of Couponing: Exercise

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It’s a New Year, which means time for New Year’s resolutions, including a favorite one – getting in shape. However, you don’t have to spend a fortune on gym memberships, personal trainers, and new gym clothes. There are many budget-friendly ways to add more exercise into your daily schedule in the upcoming year.

  • Create your own home gym in your kitchen, bedroom, living room or elsewhere, and exercise whenever you want. Gather free workouts from YouTube, Pinterest, and blogs. Be sure to mix it up and focus on all areas of your body by including different types of workouts. You can also purchase DVD workouts and equipment, such as weights and yoga mats. The one-time purchase of the items will pay off in the long run, compared to the price of annual gym memberships.
  • Look for free fitness classes in the community and at organizations, such as the YMCA and YWCA. Throughout the year, different types of classes and events will be offered at no fee. A simple Google search will help show what events are available in your city. Also, contact the local organizations and gyms to see if they are offering anything.
  • Get outdoors to exercise. Take a walk in a park or through downtown, go on a hike or a bike ride. It costs little to nothing to be active outside with family and friends while still enjoying nature.
  • Sometimes exercising by yourself can be hard. There is no one to hold you accountable for your goals, so it might be easy to fall back into bad habits like, for example, spending money on unnecessary junk food. Try exercising with a friend or in a team. This will allow you to stay on track, without spending money on a whim.
  • In addition to joining teams, one way to save money is to participate in a community-led sports team. This cost-efficient exercise has weekly practices and games to keep you in shape. Lean towards more intramural teams that don’t cost much in equipment, but still give you a good workout, while being affordable and, most importantly, fun.
  • There is an app for everything on your phone, so why not use a fitness app? However, you need to make sure it is free. Some free fitness apps include Gym Goal, Couch to 5k, Sworkit, and Fitness Buddy.
  • A gym membership can be expensive, but the good news is that it’s a lower price to join in the summer. This is because of the fewer new members registering for membership. Gyms are trying to maintain their high participation numbers and hope lowering their prices will attract people to join. Another time to look for gym promotions is in January, right when people start working on their New Year’s resolutions.
  • Also, when it comes to gym prices, there is room for negotiation. Many gym chains are willing to set your membership fee based on what you will be allowed to access. For example, a lower price will mean you’ll have limited access to certain areas of the gym. To negotiate the best way possible, you need to first do your homework and arm yourself with information and knowledge for your meeting with the gym employee. Also, you should shop at the end of the month and in the middle of a weekday (membership salesmen have a quota to meet), and always ask for a trial period.
  • Maintaining a healthy lifestyle and limiting your alcohol consumption will cut down on your spending and add money to your wallet. Stick with your grocery list for healthy foods and don’t head towards the junk food. Also, you can save money by taking your lunch to work and trying frozen fruits and vegetables instead of fresh. In the long run, you may also save on doctors’ bills by not getting sick.

Article originally published in Forsyth Woman: http://www.forsythwoman.com/budget-buzzz-exercise

xoxo,

Megan

Just 20 Seconds

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One of my favorite quotes is pictured above. For many things in life, all we need is just 20 seconds of insane courage. Whether that be the courage to speak up, correct a wrong, apply for a job, or go on an adventure, 20 seconds can go far.

Try taking time everyday to do something new and something brave. You never know what will come of it.

xoxo,

Megan