Strawberry Cinnamon Rolls

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One of my favorite things about any holiday is the chance to spend time with my family. Almost every holiday morning, we have a special breakfast together, either before or after the morning festivities. This Easter Sunday is going to be a little different with some of my loved ones being far away, however, our breakfast tradition still stands and this time, we are making these fantastic strawberry cinnamon rolls. This recipe is perfect for spring and Easter morning.

Ingredients: 

  • 3/4 cup milk
  • 1/3 cup margarine or butter, softened
  • 3 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 .25 ounce package of instant yeast, roughly 2 tsp
  • 1/4 cup white sugar
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 egg
  • 1/4 cup water

Filling

  • 1 cup strawberry jam
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 2 cups sliced strawberries

Icing

  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 1/4 tsp cinnamon
  • 1-2 tbsp milk

Directions:

    • Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
    • Heat the milk in a small saucepan until warm. Mix in the butter until melted. Let cool to a lukewarm temperature.
    • In a large bowl, combine 2 1/4 cup flour, yeast, sugar, and salt. Mix well.
    • Stir in egg and 1/4 cup of water. Then, stir in the milk mixture until dough forms.
    • Add in another cup of flour. When dough comes together, flip it onto a lightly floured surface and knead until smooth.
    • Return the dough ball to the bowl, cover with a damp towel, and let rise for 10 minutes.
    • Roll out dough into a 15×10 inch rectangle. Spread the strawberry jam all over the dough. Sprinkle with cinnamon. Then, evenly cover with the chopped strawberries.
    • Roll up the dough and pinch the seam into a seal. Cut into 12 equal size rolls.
    • Place rolls cut side up in a greased 11×13 baking dish. Cover and let rise until doubled (30 mins).
    • Bake in the preheated oven for 30 minutes or until golden brown.
  • For the icing, mix the powdered sugar and cinnamon with 1 tbsp of milk. Stir until glaze forms. Drizzle glaze over finished rolls. You can also add a few drops of lemon juice for additional flavor!

Enjoy!

xoxo,

Megan

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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

 

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

Celebrating Valentine’s Day at School

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February 14th is a day full of love, and there are many ways to celebrate with your loved ones, especially your kids. Multiple activities are available to create excitement around Valentine’s Day at home and at school. However, it can get overwhelming deciding on the perfect Valentine for your child to send to their classmates. To help ease some of the stress of finding the right Valentine to send to school, below are some ideas for you to use.

  • It is common to send a card and candy with your kids to give to their classmates, but sometimes that can get a little confusing, especially with food allergies. If you are going this route, double-check with your child’s teacher and/or other parents to scope out what type of food allergies are in the class. Easier types of candy to include are chocolate or conversation hearts. Don’t be afraid to branch out from doing traditional candy. Popcorn, pretzels, and cheese puffs are great ideas, as well. One of my favorite ideas is attaching a bag of lifesavers to the card with the caption, “Your friendship is a lifesaver.”
  • Candy or food doesn’t have to go with the card. Instead, try adding a colorful pencil, small notebook; a fun toy, such as a Hot Wheels car for boys and a bracelet for girls; or a miniature animal or Legos. Let your child decide on the cute treat to include with their classmates’ Valentines.
  • Most kids love doing arts and crafts. Create a small DIY project for a Valentine. Provide the materials and instructions on the card or a decorative tag. Take it up a notch and let the students make the craft project during their Valentine’s Day party at school. Arrange this activity by talking with the teacher or party coordinator. They will thank you for taking care of this element. Plus, it is an interactive, hands-on way to engage kids in celebrating the day. A quick Internet search or trip onto Pinterest will give you multiple projects for all ages. Remember to scout out projects where you can purchase the items in bulk, such as construction paper and popsicle sticks. Plus, if anything needs to be cut out, go ahead and prepare that for the classmates. When giving Valentines to a class, it is never okay to leave a student out. Think about materials you can get in quantities from 20–35. The “Bumble bee on a Stick Puppet” activity is a perfect example. All you need is:
    • Paper – yellow, black, and red for the antennas.
    • Black marker
    • Glue dots
    • Popsicle stick
  • Then, cut out two circles in yellow paper, about 2and 1½” wide respectively, for the body and head. Attach the smaller circle, the head, to the bigger one with a glue dot. Using the black paper, cut two or three ¼”-wide and 5″-long strips for the bee’s stripes. Attach to the body with glue dots. Cut off any excess black from the body and place it on the back of the head as the antennas. Create a small flower of red out of the red paper to attach to the top of the antennas for a pop of color. Then, add the bee’s stingers with small black triangles to the body. Then, turn the bee into a puppet by gluing the insect to a popsicle stick. Lastly, add some decoration, personality, and a cute face to your bee. Ta-da!
  • Other fun ideas to make into Valentine’s Day gifts include watercolor paints, bubbles, finger paint, Play-Doh, glow sticks, fake tattoos, and coloring pages.

Valentine’s Day is a sweet holiday whose meaning is centered on love. These ideas are awesome in helping to bring the holiday’s meaning to school with your kids. Just remember the goal is to make the Valentine’s Day fun, creative, and exciting for the receivers.

xoxo,

Megan

On the 6th Day of Christmas…

The holiday season is a time for giving. We give time as well as gifts to family, friends, and others in our lives. But, it is also important to give to those we don’t know and celebrate the real meaning of the season. All ages can contribute their time by giving back to their community. It doesn’t have to be a huge amount of time, even the smallest project can make an impact. Need some ideas for giving back? Read below. 

• Visit a nursing home: This can be done as a family or with a group. Make cards and decorations beforehand and take them with you to give to the residents. Also, bring some holiday cheer by singing a few carols while there. Be sure to call ahead and schedule your visit. 
• Volunteer at a homeless shelter: When I was in elementary school, my Girl Scout troop volunteered at the Salvation Army shelter during December. We helped serve dinner, talked with the residents, and then sang Christmas carols. In addition, we brought bags filled with snacks, toiletries, and gloves and socks to pass out. Looking back this was one of my favorite memories of giving back during the holidays. Take some time and visit your local homeless shelter. Help with a meal or make bags to hand out.Personalize these care kits to the different types of shelters. For example, add more products for women if you are taking them to a woman’s shelter and don’t forget to include something for the kids. Want to make it resemble the holidays more? Fill a stocking with granola bars, water bottles, a toothbrush, and toothpaste, socks and gloves.
• Donate to a food bank: During the holiday season, this act of kindness is one of the most common, but yet is still in great demand, especially after the holidays. Take your kids to the grocery store and let them pick out the nonperishable goods to donate to your local food bank or ministry with a food pantry. Also, pick up some toiletries to include with your donation
• Send Christmas cards to deployed soldiers or to your local veterans hospitalThis simple act goes a long way. Be creative and create homemade Christmas cards for soldiers overseas and fore veterans at the veterans hospital. These cards will help them remember that people are thinking about them and their sacrifices for our country during the holidays. You can also prepare a care package to send with the cards. There are several organizations that help soldiersreceive the packages, such as Support Our Troops and Holiday Mail for Heroes. 
• Cook and bake: Cooking a meal or baking cookies is a great gesture to say thank-you to the various people in our lives. Prepare a casserole to freeze or a crockpot meal for your neighbors in need or take a meal to the employees at the police department, fire station, or EMS workers. Don’t want to do a meal? Bake cookies and sweets to give to neighbors, teachers, librarians, post office works, your mailman, and many more. 
• Deliver hot chocolate to the Salvation Army bell ringers: It can be cold standing outside stores, ringing the bells for a good cause. But you can make things warmer by bringing them hot chocolate. Make a batch and fill a thermos with the chocolate drink. Then, take cups and deliver the snack to the volunteers at various stores. In addition, bake some holiday cookies to take with you. 
• Clean out the toy box and closet: If there is a toy your child hasn’t played with in a while or a coat you haven’t worn in years, donate it to a local shelter or toy and coat drive. Someone will appreciate being able to give their child a gift this season or have something warm to wear when the weather gets cooler. Also, gather items for an angel on the Salvation Army’s Angel Tree or the holiday stocking drives. 

 

Whatever way you choose to give back, know you are making a difference in a person’s life. Yes, the holidays are a busy time, but there is always time to remember the reason for the season. 

xoxo,

Megan

On the 5th Day of Christmas…

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There is nothing better than your house smelling like Christmas during the holidays. An easy way to do that is by making this simple cranberry orange stovetop potpourri. Plus, it makes a great present for teachers, hostess gifts, and more! It takes a little more planning and assembling than other presents, but definitely worth it, and you can also make one for yourself! All you need is:

  • 1–16 oz. Mason jar with lid
  • ½ cup fresh cranberries
  • 2 sprigs of fresh rosemary
  • 2 slices of an orange
  • 23 cinnamon sticks
  • Nutmeg
  • Water
  • Burlap
  • Ribbon or twine
  • Gift tag

Then, fill the jar with the ingredients and immerse in water. Decorate the outside with the burlap, ribbon or twine, and add a gift tag with instructions on how to use. The instructions should say something like: “Pour contents into a small sauce pan and simmer over low heat. Add water as needed. Enjoy!

xoxo,

Megan

On the 4th Day of Christmas…

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It is always nice to give a loved one in your life a meaningful, handmade gift at Christmastime. But, where do you start? First, take a Mason jar (different sizes or types of jars can also work) and think about what kind of present you want to give. Is it a birthday present? Is it an anniversary present? However, the jar doesn’t have to be used as a gift. It can be a jar full of ideas for your family, spouse, or children. Below are a few ways to use a Mason jar as a gift, or in other ways.

Date Night: In need of some date-night ideas? Fill your jar with strips of paper with ideas for you and your loved one to do. Some paper strips can be for game nights, movie nights, or having a meal together. The purpose of a date-night jar is that all of the ideas are inexpensive, yet meaningful. Create enough ideas to last a year. Another take on the date-night jar is to write reasons why you love your special someone. Give it to them on Valentine’s Day, their birthday, or your anniversary.

Boredom Busters: Keep your kids entertained during the summer and school breaks. Take Popsicle sticks or strips of paper and write fun, creative ideas for your children to do. Whenever they are bored, have them pull out an idea and have a ball. Also, include activities for your whole family to do together. Maybe a family game night, places to visit throughout your town or elsewhere.

Mixes: This type of jar is great for Christmas presents, especially if you need to make something in bulk. Prepare the dry ingredients of your favorite recipe for cookies, brownies, hot chocolate, etc. Attach the recipe’s instructions and be sure to mention liquid ingredients that need to be added.

Movie Lovers: We all have someone in our lives that is a die-hard movie lover. They are always the first ones to see the latest blockbuster hit. The next time you are looking to give them a present, think about a movie lover’s jar. This jar can contain popcorn, candy, and gift cards to the movie theater. You can also package it with a few bottles of soda or a DVD.

Spa Night: A spa in a jar is the perfect gift for a friend, mom, sister or aunt. Give it to them for their birthday, Valentine’s Day, Mother’s Day, or “just because.” All you need to do is include a face mask, hand-and-foot scrub, lip scrub, massage oil, bath salts, hand cream, foot lotion, and an eye mask. Also, add in a pair of socks and pieces of candy.

Survival Kit: Jars are quick and convenient ways to hold and carry needed supplies. Survival kits can be used for college, a new parent, the first day on the job, and more. Think about the items a person needs the most when starting a new occasion or life event. They can also be used for holidays. For example, a bridesmaid survival kit could include a mini-sewing kit, safety pins, breath mints, lip balm, lint roller, polish remover, stain remover, nail polish, pain reliever, tissues, and bobby pins.

Housewarming Gift: When a new family moves into the neighborhood, they will soon be greeted with welcome baskets, pies, cakes, and other gifts. But, do you know what will be a unique gift? Give them a housewarming jar full of items such as mini-champagne bottles, kitchen utensils, soap, colorful napkins, clothespins, Magic Erasers, and other cleaning supplies. You can also include local restaurants or helpful phone numbers on a strip of paper. Another example is creating a sangria jar with the ingredients to make the popular drink.

Color-Coded: Think of a person’s favorite color, then make a jar of items of that color. For example, if your friend loves purple, think of only purple things to include. This idea can be used for any type of present, whether it’s going off to college, a housewarming present, a birthday gift, and more.

With any type of jar you choose, throw in as many items as you would like. Just remember to get creative and have fun!

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