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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Happy St. Patrick’s Day!

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Top of the morning to ya! Ok, you might be reading this article in the morning, afternoon, or evening, but every year on March 17th, we are all Irish at heart for the day. This day, known as St. Patrick’s Day, is a religious holiday in honor of the patron saint, Saint Patrick, and the anniversary of his death in the fifth century. He is credited with bringing Christianity to Ireland. However, it wasn’t until the ninth or tenth century when people began celebrating the Roman Catholic feast day of St. Patrick on March 17th. The first parade for the day wasn’t held in Ireland, but in New York City, when Irish soldiers in the English military marched through in 1762. From that parade, Irish patriotism grew within the United States, and celebrations grew throughout the world. Today, the New York City St. Patrick’s Day Parade is the world’s oldest civilian parade and largest in the country. Other big parades and activities are held in Chicago, Boston, Philadelphia, and Savannah.

Throughout the world, celebrations are also held in honor of St. Patrick. The Sydney Opera House is known to go green by being lit with green lights on March 17th, and in Trafalgar Square in London, thousands of people line up for the annual parade. However, there is no better place to be on St. Patrick’s Day than in Ireland. The home country of the holiday is known for its festivities. The day is held in the same regard as Christmas and Easter. Since the holiday falls during Lent, Irish families spend the day at church in the morning and celebrating in the afternoon. Parades, community feasts, mass, and charity shows are the usual events, and everything except pubs and restaurants are closed. The biggest celebration is held in Downpatrick in Northern Ireland, where Saint Patrick is buried. Here, a week-long festival occurs with thousands of people attending.

Why Green?

On St. Patrick’s Day, it is a tradition for people to wear green or they will be pinched. Historically, blue was the first color associated with the day and Saint Patrick. Green was soon connected with the holiday, because of Ireland’s nickname, “The Emerald Isle.” Also, the color is on the country’s flag and is the color of the clover, another St. Patrick’s Day tradition. Many Irish people will wear a three-leaf clover or shamrock on their clothing. It is known that Saint Patrick used the clover in his teachings about Catholicism. The clover’s leaves represented the Holy Trinity. Another tradition some still follow is that Catholics will wear green and Protestants will wear orange. Both colors are on the flag, as well as white. The color white represents the peace between the two groups. As for the pinching, the myth goes that, if you don’t wear green, leprechauns will see you and pinch you. The green makes you invisible to them.

Traditions

The Shamrock – More commonly known as the three-leaf clover, the shamrock is a sacred plant in ancient Ireland. Also referred to as the seamroy by Celts, it symbolizes the rebirth of spring. In the seventeenth century, it became the symbol of Irish nationalism and pride for their heritage.

Irish Music – Music is an important part of the Irish culture and St. Patrick’s Day. The Celts’ culture was based on oral history with religion and legend being passed to the next generation by stories and songs. After the English had conquered their land, they were forbidden to speak their own language and were oppressed. They quickly turned to music to help remember their heritage and history. Today, traditional Irish music is played by bands and groups worldwide.

The Snake – During his time in Ireland, it is rumored that Saint Patrick once banished all the snakes from Ireland. He stood on a hilltop, now known as Croagh Patrick, and used a wooden staff to send the reptiles away. However, this legend is used mainly for the removal of pagan ideology to further the success of Christianity. In fact, Ireland was never home to snakes.

Leprechauns – The myth of these figures developed through folklore, with their Irish name “lobaircin,” meaning small-bodied fellow. Legend has it leprechauns come from the Celtic belief of fairies using their magical powers for good or evil. They are often represented as cranky people, who are known for their tricks for protecting their pots of gold, as well as mending shoes of other fairies.

On March 17th, the world comes together to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day. There are parades, music, and lots of wearin’ of the green. After all, on St. Patty’s Day, everyone is just a little bit Irish.

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

You’re Invited! An Insider’s Guide to Birthday Invitations

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There are many times in a person’s life that call for a celebration—one being their birthday. The day when a person is born is very special and important. It is the one day out of a 365-day year where someone should be honored. One way to make this person feel special is by having a birthday party, and the first thing to do when you are hosting a bash is to send out invitations.

There are many ways to design birthday invitations. Depending on the type of soirée, there are a few etiquette rules to follow. To help ease some of the stress, there are stores and online sites that complete the invitations for you. However, birthday invitations are something you can do yourself, as long as you feel comfortable doing so. Don’t worry, because below I have an insider’s guide on what to include when creating your own birthday invitations. No matter what, though, birthday invitations should be unique and special.

  • Use the same theme or color scheme for your invitations as you are using for your celebration. An invitation should be the first thing to clue guests into what to expect. Are they coming to a fiesta or a luau? If you are going with a color scheme, err on the side of bright, vibrant colors. These shades should also be contrasting; that way they are eye-popping to the attendees.
  • Include all the basic information. Every layout needs to include the party’s purpose, such as “Emily’s 30th birthday,” the date, time, location, and RSVP details. Some other things to consider: are any special instructions, attire, whether it is a surprise or not, number of guests to bring, etc. List who is hosting the celebration, if it is not the guest of honor. Special instructions can include whether it is a children’s party, should an adult stay, or something guests need to bring that is specific to the event. For example, if the festivity includes painting, let guests know whether they should bring an apron or smock. Think about if you were the attendee coming to your event, what information would you want to know. If you are planning a child’s birthday, make sure to let the parents of the children coming know what to expect. If swimming is a part of the party, it is important to inform others about that.
  • Make the birthday honoree the star of the invitation. People want to know who they are celebrating and what for. Let the purpose stand out with a bigger font, different color, or an image. Be careful not to overload with images—only use one or two. While you want the information and person to stand out, you don’t want to overstimulate guests to the point where the invitation is confusing.
  • Be playful, if the invitation allows. Get creative with your wording and have fun. The design sets the tone for the event. Catchy phrases or taglines to common characters or pictures are always great to have, if they fit your theme.
  • Send the birthday party invitation out at least three weeks in advance, but no more than five weeks prior. The key is to let guests have enough time to RSVP without letting it sit in their hands for too long. Requesting a deadline to RSVP? Always remember to include that date on the invitation. This deadline should be about a week beforehand. Decide on whether the final number of guests is needed by any vendors, caterers, or if this deadline is set in stone. For more casual events, the RSVP date can be flexible.

Birthdays are meant to be a fun time, and hosting a bash can make it all the more memorable. Whether you are planning it for yourself or a loved one, use these tips above to make sure that your invitation creates the right feeling and sets your party on the right track.

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 2nd Day of Christmas

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During this time of the year, almost everywhere you go, you hear holiday music. The voices of Nat King Cole, Perry Como, and Bing Crosby ring through every store, building, and home, singing the lyrics of countless tunes we know by heart. But do you know the history behind the famous songs? For the 2nd day of Christmas, brush up on your holiday song trivia and wow your family and friends at the next holiday get-together/

  • “Jingle Bells” – This famous holiday melody was originally written as a winter song and not meant for the holidays. There are different theories as to how the song originated, but the most well-known version was written by James Pierpont in 1850 in Medford, Massachusetts. The original title was “The One Horse Open Sleigh” and was inspired by the annual sleigh races throughout the town, hence the lyrics. Historians say Pierpont wrote the song for his father’s Sunday school class for Thanksgiving and it became so popular people, they sang it again at Christmas time.
  • “I Have a Little Dreidel” – This tune is one of the most famous Chanukah songs in the English-speaking world. On the four sides of a dreidel, the letters “Nun-Gimel-Heh-Shin” are printed and represent the phrase “Nas-Godol-Hayah-Sham,” meaning “a great miracle happened there.” There are two versions of the song: English and Yiddish. The English version was written by Samuel S. Grossman and Samuel E. Goldfarb. Together, Grossman and Goldfarb composed the melody and lyrics.
  • “Deck the Halls” – This Welsh Christmas song goes back to the 16th century, with a melody coming from the Welsh winter song “Nos Galan,” which is actually about New Year’s Eve. The first English version of the song appeared in 1862 and was composed by Welsh lyricist John Jones and English lyricist Thomas Oliphant. Oliphant changed the original Welsh lyrics, which mainly described winter, love, and cold weather, to a version that alluded to the upcoming of Christmas. The only similarity between the two versions is the traditional “fa la la la la, la la la la.”
  • “O Tannenbaum” – Also known as “O Christmas Tree,” this traditional German carol’s first lyrics date back to 1550, but it became a classic in 1820 with August Zarnack coining the first verse. Four years later, in 1824, the second and third verses were added on by Ernst Gebhard Anschutz. A Tannenbaum is a synonym for a fir tree or Christmas tree. The practice of putting up a Christmas tree was popular in Germany during the time of the song’s writing, but wasn’t popular in England and America until later. “O Tannenbaum” didn’t become a classic in England and America until the mid-19th century, when the tradition of Christmas trees made their way over.
  • “The Christmas Song” – “The Christmas Song” is one of the most well-known holiday songs and originated from a hot July afternoon in 1945. Stated in his autobiography, songwriter Mel Tormé says it only took him and songwriting partner Bob Wells 45 minutes to compose the classic tune. Images such as “chestnuts roasting on an open fire” were modeled after Wells’ childhood memory of the holidays in Boston. Once completed, the two contacted Carlos Gastel, the manager of Nat King Cole and Peggy Lee, and played the song to him. A year later, in 1946, Nat King Cole’s record of the tune came out and the rest is history.
  • “It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year” – “It’s the most wonderful time of the year, with kids jingle belling and everyone telling you ‘be of good cheer.’” Written specifically for The Andy Williams Christmas Album, this song was created by George Wyle and Eddie Pola in 1963. The following year radio stations picked up the tune and began playing it on a regular rotation. Since then, “It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year” has gotten more airtime with every coming year, making it a holiday classic.

Whether you spend the holidays humming “tis the season to be jolly” or “oh, dreidel, dreidel, dreidel,” there’s sure to be a song stuck in your head. Now, you’ll be able to tell everyone how these popular holiday songs originated.

xoxo,

Megan

Christmastime Love for the “Peanuts”

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For many people, it is a Christmas tradition. Sitting down with your loved ones and watching the timeless program, A Charlie Brown Christmas, which premiered on December 9th, 1965. Many people watch this story each year in December. But, have you ever asked yourself what makes this classic so memorable and a favorite of so many?

During Christmas, a feeling of nostalgia is in the air, and every smell, sight, film, etc. can trigger a beloved memory for most people. This is exactly what happens with A Charlie Brown Christmas. Within the first few minutes, as viewers watch the characters ice skating, and the song “Christmastime is Here” plays in the background, they are taken back in time. They remember special moments spent with family and Christmas memories from long ago. According to writer Mike Errico, in his article, “The Real Reason You Love A Charlie Brown Christmas,” jazz pianist and film composer Vince Guaraldi’s use of sounds and pictures created an “emotional resonance.” Plus, the characters are voiced by children, not adults, adding a child-like enjoyment to the story. After all, doesn’t everyone feel like a child again during the holidays?

Along with the music and children’s voices, the film is remembered because of its premise. A depressed Charlie Brown is on a “search” for Christmas cheer. He is fed up with the commercialism of the holiday. To help with his journey, friend Lucy asks Charlie Brown to direct the neighborhood Christmas play. However, things don’t go as planned and chaos occurs. All the characters have different opinions, but for Charlie Brown, all the play needs is the enchantment of a Christmas tree. He and friend Linus go shopping and end up with a tiny twig of a tree. Once the two return to the rehearsal, their tree isn’t a big hit and a frustrated Charlie Brown asks if anybody knows what Christmas is all about. In the end, Linus saves the day by reciting the story of Christmas, Luke 2: 8-14. In addition, throughout the film, Snoopy is up to his traditional antics, making the loveable pup even more treasured. The story concludes with the Peanuts gang finding the meaning of Christmas, which doesn’t involve presents, glitter, or decorations.

A Charlie Brown Christmas is full of memorable and meaningful symbols that almost everyone can connect to. There is the tree; the tension of the commercialism of Christmas; coming together to help a friend or loved one; and discovering the message of the holiday. One reason these elements are easy to relate to is because these are the things some people are feeling during the month of December. A Charlie Brown Christmas reminds us of what is important and what is not. It gives the Christmas message to generations throughout the world. In addition, it shows that material objects aren’t the full representation of the holiday and that you can take the tiniest, unpleasant-looking thing and make it beautiful, like Charlie Brown’s Christmas tree.

When the show premiered on CBS, the network expected it to flop and be the end of Peanuts. However, people knew the program would be a success just by its broadcast when it was watched by more than 15.4 million viewers. Since then, ACharlie Brown Christmas has become the second-longest running Christmas program in history. Also, the program has inspired the television Christmas tradition of running half-hour animated specials, such as How the Grinch Stole Christmas and Frosty the Snowman.

Throughout the years, A Charlie Brown Christmas has become a Christmas staple. Peanuts creator Charles Schulz produced a timeless and relatable holiday story that is packed with nostalgia, a sense of melancholy, and meaning.  Just as Linus said, the program describes “what Christmas is all about.

xoxo,

Megan

Healthier Baking 101

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Sweets are in abundance during the holidays. From the cookies, cakes, and more, there always seems to be something tasty in my kitchen. However, too many sweet treats can be a problem. Many baking recipes include sugar, butter, and other fatty ingredients that are unhealthy for a person’s body. The good news, though, is that there are still ways for you to have your favorite confections that include healthier ingredients. Put the tips below to use this holiday season. Trust me, your recipes will taste the same, and your loved ones will never know that you swapped oil for applesauce.

Replacing Oil: 

  • As mentioned above, a great way to replace some of the fat is using unsweetened applesauce instead of oil. A common rule of thumb is for every one cup of oil in a recipe, switch out for ¾ a cup of applesauce. Don’t have any on hand? Combine one mushed apple and a splash of lemon juice.
  • Greek yogurt is another favorite of many and works fantastic in place of oil or fat. It keeps the moisture and flavor of the dish. Plus, the yogurt is full of calcium, protein, and probiotics.

Replacing Sugar: 

  • You can’t have a dessert without sugar! Or so they say. Instead of artificial sugar, mash up a banana into your ingredients. Make sure the banana is ripe. This substitution keeps the sweetness of the dessert but has healthier advantages, such as being rich in glucose, easy to digest, and improves your energy, preventing a sugar crash.
  • Alternatives to white table sugar are honey, maple syrup, or dates. These natural forms reduce the amount of added sugar but still should be consumed in reasonable amounts.
  • Lastly, spices work well in adding flavor and taste to treats with excessive amounts of sugar. Cinnamon and nutmeg are common replacements and boost metabolism, an extra benefit.

Replacing Flour: 

  • Almost all baking recipes include flour. Yet flour can affect your health in many ways, both good and bad. One simple way to add more health benefits is using whole wheat flour in lieu of white flours. The latter is made from heavily refined and processed wheat grain that isn’t good for you. As for whole wheat flour, it is processed differently and has more health advantages.
  • Try making your own flour from oats, flax, and nuts. All you need to do is blend up the items in a food processor or blender, and you are good to go. There is no need to change the needed amount the recipes call for; just blend until you have the same amount of fine dust.

Other Tips and Tricks: 

  • Even though it is a baking recipe, all desserts don’t have to actually be baked. Research and find a no-bake treat for your favorite sweet. No-bake desserts can include healthier ingredients and possibly use less fatty ingredients than are needed for a baked dessert.
  • Dark chocolate is known for its advantages, including aiding in weight loss, reducing stress, and controlling a person’s appetite. Moderation is key, but don’t hesitate to switch any type of chocolate with dark chocolate.
  • Avocados are a healthy fat and a unique way to replace butter. This fruit is packed with protein and nutrients. In addition, it gives a smooth texture to the item.

I love to bake, but sometimes the recipes aren’t the healthiest. The solution to that problem is incorporating these tips. Using substitutions in baking is easy and simple. Plus, you won’t feel guilty eating a few more pieces of a sweet treat, because you know it is healthier.

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