Give Thanks

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I hope you have a great Thanksgiving! Stop and give thanks for your many blessings. Thank you for following along on this journey with me!

xoxo,

Megan

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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

Simple Southern Hush Puppies

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

Ingredients: 

3/4 cup self rising flour
1 cup self rising corn meal (not mix)
1 large egg, lightly beaten
1 small onion, finely minced 
1 pinch garlic powder
1 pinch onion powder
1 pinch old bay seasoning
1 Tbsp sugar
3/4 to 1 cup buttermilk
Canola oil for frying
Directions:
1. In large mixing bowl, mix together flour and cornmeal. Add egg, onion and spices. Add buttermilk and stir with fork just until blended. Mixture should be farily stiff. Add a little bit more buttermilk, if necessary.
2. Heat oil in deep fryer to 375 degrees. Drop dough by teaspoons into hot oil and fry until hush puppies rise to the top and are golden brown. Remove from fryer and drain on paper towels.
Enjoy!
xoxo,
Megan

The Perfect Checklist for Any Party

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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

Article published in Forsyth Family Magazine 

7 Home Remedies to Use When You Are Sick

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I got a Christmas present I didn’t ask for you this year – a horrible cold. No one wants to wake up Christmas morning unable to breathe and coughing up a storm. However, after using these seven home remedies, I’m on the mend to feeling better.

  1. Salt Water – Gargling salt water can help prevent upper respiratory infections and decrease the severity of cold symptoms. Dissolve 1 teaspoon of salt in a full glass of water. Swish around in month and throat. Then, spit it out.
  2. Warm Baths – Take a warm bath with Epsom salt and baking soda. Cold and flu symptoms and body aches can be reduced with the warm water. Also, try adding a few drops of essential oils for a soothing effects. Some options are: tea tree, juniper, rosemary, lavender, or eucalyptus.
  3. Heat Up Your Sinuses – Hold a hot pack or hot washcloth to your sinuses for a few minutes. Reusable hot packs can be purchased at drugstores. Be careful to not make the pack too hot.
  4. Honey – A spoonful of honey before bed helps decrease nighttime coughs.
  5. Cinnamon – Naturalists loved this spice, because of its healing effects, such as easing a dry or sore throat. Boil one teaspoon of cinnamon in a glass of water and drink. For an extra effect, mix it with pepper powder and honey.
  6. Take Vitamin C – You can get a dose of vitamin-C through a supplement or foods, such as citrus, green peppers, dark lefty greens, and kiwi fruit.
  7. Lemon – The acidic effects of lemons help eliminate bacteria from mucous membranes. Chopped one lemon into half and keep the skin on. Place in a boiling cup of water and let it steep for a few minutes. Inhale the steam.

Use these home remedies whenever you feel under the weather and you’ll feel better soon!

xoxo,

Megan

 

 

Walking in Another Person’s Shoes

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We hear the phrase all the time: “if only I could walk in another person’s shoes and see their perspective.” Most of the time, our answer is “why would I want to do that?” Yet, wouldn’t it be nice sometimes to walk in the shoes of someone else and understand their worries and thoughts?

Recently, I was working on a project with a colleague. We spent the afternoon together and acted like we normally did. Little did I know, five minutes before meeting me, she had been laid off from her full-time job. Later that same day, she told me what happened and said this afternoon wasn’t the right place to talk and did all that she could to hold in her emotions.

I completely understand a person not wanting to show their true emotions all the time; I do it almost every day. However, when situations like this occur, it is important to remember to always be kind and friendly to others. Because, after all, you never know what is happening in someone’s life. No one will ever get the chance to truly walk in another person’s shoes, but by being considerate, you just might help ease their burdens.

xoxo,

Megan

Unique Holiday Hostess Gifts

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You have just been invited to your best friend’s Christmas party, a weekend at your aunt’s, or need a gift on hand for the last-minute dinner at a friend’s house. When someone has welcomed you into their home for an event, it is always nice to bring a small gift to thank the host. However, it can sometimes be hard to think about what you should give someone. Do they like a certain type of food? Are they allergic to various smells? Don’t stress, because I’ve done the hard work for you by creating a list of unique hostess gifts below. All you need to do is choose which one you want to use.

  • Sangria in a Jar – All you need to do is take a mason jar and place the items needed for sangria inside. Along with the jar, include a bottle of wine and a selection of fruits to complete the present. Another option is to use a drink dispenser instead of a Mason jar and tie a wooden spoon to the outside.
  • All-One-Color Basket – Use the host’s favorite color and turn it into a basket with only items of that color. For example, if they love yellow, all gifts would be yellow. This gift doesn’t have to be huge and can include their favorite candies, drinks, lotions, etc.
  • Frames with a Picture Inside – This small gesture will be meaningful for you and your friend. Purchase a few pretty frames and then place a favorite photo of the two of you behind the glass. What better time to remember fun times than during the holidays?
  • Cranberry Orange Stovetop Potpourri – This present takes a little more planning and assembling than others, 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!”

If you are looking for hostess gift ideas that can be purchased in a larger quantity and take less time to prepare, try one of these ideas below.

  • Cloth Napkins and Napkin Rings – This present can be used year-round. Choose a style that will match the hostess’ kitchen, dining room, etc. Make sure to purchase at least four napkins and rings to provide the gift-receiver with a set.
  • Funny Dish Towels – Another gift that will keep on giving the whole year. Consider your friend’s personality and what type of towel they might like. Then, every time they see the towel, they’ll think of you.
  • Coasters – Always a necessity, coasters are a great way to fuel the host’s love for their favorite sports team or school. Not sure what they prefer?  You can’t go wrong with a design or colorful set.
  • Cheese Board Set – I love gifts that are usable and have many purposes. A cheese board, complete with a set of cheese knives and even cheese, is a perfect present. The board doesn’t have to be huge and can also be used as a cutting board.
  • Utensil Set – This is a great item, especially for people who are newly married or have moved into a new home. Choose a cute container that matches their style and fill it with common kitchen items. Take it a step further and tie a kitchen dish towel (or a funny dish towel) around the utensil set.

Whenever you’re invited to a holiday shindig this season, always remember to bring a hostess gift. The host will appreciate your taking the time to think of them.

xoxo,

Megan

Article published in Forsyth Family Magazine. 

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

Project Healing Waters Fly Fishing

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Every year on November 11th, we honor the sacrifices military veterans have made for our country. For many past service members, the memories and sacrifices of their time in the military stay with them for the rest of their lives. Some of these recollections come in the form of physical or emotional wounds, making the adjustment back to civilian life harder. It is important for veterans going through these struggles to know that they aren’t alone. There are people and organizations, like Project Healing Waters Fly Fishing, willing to support and help them with their new normal.

Project Healing Waters Fly Fishing is a nonprofit organization that started in 2005. The charity was established first for wounded military service members returning from Iraq and Afghanistan at the Walter Reed Army Medical Center. Just a year later, the name Project Healing Waters Fly Fishing became official and today, there are numerous programs throughout the country and in Department of Defense hospitals, Warrior Transition Units, and Veterans Affairs Medical Centers and clinics. All 50 states and Germany are home to all 206 of these programs. There are also affiliate programs in Canada and Australia. As for North Carolina, there are programs at Fort Bragg and Camp LeJeune, as well as Boone, Wilmington, Asheville, Charlotte, Winston-Salem, Swansboro, Durham, and Cherokee.

The programs are based around fly fishing, giving the service members a chance to spend time in the great outdoors. Project Healing Waters Fly Fishing partners with the Federation of Fly Fishers, Trout Unlimited, and individual fly fishing clubs to provide participants with a one-day fly fishing outing. Before the trip, volunteers lead classes at the Department of Defense or Veterans Affairs facilities on basic fly fishing skills, fly casting, fly tying, and rod building. Injured active military members and disabled veterans, both men and women, and all experience levels are welcomed. According to the organization’s website, “Participants range from beginners who have never fished before, to those with prior fly fishing and tying experience who are adapting their skills to their new abilities.” In addition, these events help provide physical and emotional rehabilitation to our military men and women through outdoor therapy. Most of the participants in the classes will experience the fly-fishing event together, allowing for a greater sense of camaraderie to develop.

The majority of programs and services through Project Healing Waters Fly Fishing are run by volunteers. There is a Board of Trustees and elected officers to oversee the organization, and each program has a Program Lead. Men and women are welcome to become volunteers, and can give their time to help provide transportation to the outings and classes, as well as provide meals, organize and manage classes, host an outing, or help with the fly-fishing gear and equipment. It is important to create a supportive and comfortable environment for the participants and volunteers, and be accommodating to the different learning needs of individuals in the programs. To become involved in this nonprofit, just contact your local program for available opportunities.

Along with volunteering, you can contribute to Project Healing Waters Fly Fishing in a variety of other ways. Individuals or groups can sponsor a trip, donate fishing equipment, offer meal or lodging discounts, or host a fundraiser. All of these ideas bring awareness to the organization and help get their mission out to the public. If you are interested in starting a program in your area, all you need is a fly fishing club willing to assist with volunteers, a Department of Defense or Veterans Affairs facility to host the program and classes, and injured military members or disabled veterans wanting to participate.

For the last 12 years, Project Healing Waters Fly Fishing has been making a difference in thousands of military members’ lives. They have provided our brave men and women with comfort as they start a new life after the military. If you know a military member or veteran who is hurt or disabled, and who loves the great outdoors, then this organization may be a perfect fit.

For more information on Project Healing Waters Fly Fishing and to donate, visit projecthealingwaters.org.

xoxo,

Megan

Written for Forsyth Woman magazine.