5 Secrets to Mastering the Art of Organization

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Lately, I have been Marie Kondo-ing it up and getting my house organized before going back to school. Cleaning isn’t my favorite thing to do, yet being organized is a must. I’m a mix of messy and Monica from Friends…you could probably call me a type-A messy person.

While completing my cleaning haul, I discovered a few new tricks for better organization and I must say, I am THRILLED at how good these tips worked. These pieces of advice are effortless and most importantly, ones you can easily maintain. After all, isn’t everyone looking for simpler approaches to life’s “tough” tasks?

  1. Roll items, instead of folding them. In my dresser, I normally folded my leggings, tank-tops, etc. and laid them flat in the drawer. This technique took up a bunch of space. Instead, this time around, I rolled each item and stacked them vertically, side by side. The tinier rolls of clothing took up ten times less room and looked neater.
  2. Look for wasted space. I have been known to clutter rooms and store everything in a place where it can be seen. My mindset changed after realizing I was sick of seeing things all over the floor. Instead, I placed the pieces under my bed. Areas of wasted space are lifesavers. Get creative with your storage, by thinking about the places that are often overlooked in your house, such as under the bed, over the door, the top shelf of the closet.
  3. Visibility, accessibility, and flexibility. Recently, I read that the rules of organization are visibility, accessibility, and flexibility. As I moved from room to room, I kept those three words in mind. If an item isn’t used on a daily basis or is needed only twice a year, that item is stored in a less accessible and visible area. Don’t forget to label storage containers when needed, especially for the items that are not used as much. Another thing I discovered was to be flexible with organizing. I spent about two days in my bedroom and can’t tell you how many times I rearranged my closet and shelves until they were just right.
  4. Storage can be creative. Use decorative baskets, galvanized buckets, and hat boxes as storage containers. Cardboard and plastic boxes are a thing of the past when visible in your home. My office is full of fabric drawers and glass jars, holding items. Just be careful to not overdo the storage containers. You don’t want your home to look cluttered.
  5. Speaking of clutter, less is best. My love for tchotchkes and knit-knats is strong. I can fill up a tabletop with pictures, candles, and memorabilia from the 90s. Yet, I had no space to work, eat, etc. Decluttering is key to any room. As I went through the different spaces, I created boxes and separate these types of items into things I want to set out, things I want to keep in storage, and things I want to give away. The knit-knats that were sentimental and had the most value to me were used as decoration, while the others were moved into one of the two other boxes. As hard as it was to remove all the tchotchkes, I am loving the newfound space on my desk.

Honestly, it takes a great deal to get me organized and stay organized. However, with my anxiety, I need to have a place for everything and have some type of order to live by. Usually once or twice a year, I complete this big organizational purge and I am always glad that I did.

Happy Organizing!

xoxo,

Megan

 

 

 

 

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The Power of Laughter

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“What do you call an alligator in a vest? An investigator.” Did that pun make you laugh? If so, congratulations – you just strengthened your immune system, lowered your stress level, and got in a little bit of exercise. A simple laugh can cause the above health benefits, as well as many others,  to happen within your body. We have all heard the quote “laughter is the best medicine,” but do you know why?

Laughter has been known to be a positive healing force. It has physical, mental, and social advantages. When looking at your physical health, research shows a good laugh helps boost your T-cells. These cells are specialized immune system cells which, when activated, help your body fight off sickness. In addition, laughing releases endorphins, your body’s natural painkillers. When they are released, chronic pain can be relieved. Another benefit is lower blood pressure and stress hormone levels. Lowering a person’s blood pressure helps reduce their risk of stroke and heart attacks. Stress and anxiety levels can also be decreased, which triggers the T-cells to increase your body’s immune resistance. Lastly, humor can help a person add exercise into her day. When you are laughing, your stomach muscles expand and contract, providing effects similar to doing ab workouts. Along with your abs, laughing gets your heart pumping and can burn as many calories as walking at a slow to moderate pace. Can’t complete a physical activity due to injury, illness, or another health problem? Start laughing to get your body moving.

Humor has many mental health benefits. When a person’s stress and anxiety levels are decreased, a sense of well-being and joy can occur. Laughing is known to help create a positive and optimistic outlook. It helps a person shift her attitude and perspective during a disappointing and difficult time. Psychological research states humor allows people to see things more realistically and stop them from feeling overwhelmed. Another benefit is when you are laughing, you can’t feel any other emotions. You can’t be angry or sad when you have a smile on your face. Instead, your energy is increased, giving you a sense of hope and strength to face life’s challenges. A simple smile or small chuckle can go a long way, no matter how you are feeling.

Lastly, relationships are strengthened, and your social health can improve through laughter. There is a reason why people say laughter is contagious because when one person starts laughing, it is easy to join in. It helps people connect and share a moment of humor and happiness. Humor can be used as a way to communicate and produce positive feelings among people. When a positive bond is created, people will be more spontaneous, express their emotions more, and there are fewer disappointments and disagreements.

All people learn how to laugh as babies. However, as you grow up, it can be harder to find things that humor you. Life’s challenges could make it hard or you might not feel like laughing because of one thing or another. Sometimes you have to make an effort to laugh during the tough times. Easier said than done, right? Try bringing humor into your day by completing small tasks, such as renting a funny movie, reading a funny book, or watching a funny television show. Every Sunday, your newspaper has a section dedicated to making you laugh, so why not check it out? Also, take a walk down memory lane and remember the hilarious moments of when things didn’t go right. Keep up to date on good jokes and stories, or play with a pet or children. Finding laughter in your everyday life can be trying, but take the time to do fun activities with your family and friends. Be silly and goof around. Once you start laughing, you’ll recognize the many benefits. After all, Charlie Chaplin once said, “A day without laughter is a day wasted.”

xoxo,

Megan

Ending #SharkWeek with a DIY Activity and a Recipe

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As #SharkWeek wraps up, I’m ending the week with a bang…or bite, a shark bite that is. Below are two ideas, one DIY project, and one recipe, for you and your family to make and enjoy. First, it is a simple and fun Ocean Slime activity. Then, enjoy tasty Shark Marshmallow Pops. 

I hope you have had as much fun as I have celebrating #SharkWeek. Being the over-planner that I am, I’m already thinking about next year’s posts!

Ocean Slime 

Materials: 

  • 1 cup clear glue
  • 1/2 of liquid starch
  • Blue food coloring
  • Small ocean animal decorations or shells

Directions: 

  1. In a bowl, mix the glue and a few drops of blue food coloring together. Add in the liquid starch. Be careful and don’t pour in too much starch at first; otherwise, the mixture will get hard.
  2. Knead the slime until it no longer sticks to your hands. Add more liquid starch, if needed.
  3. Once you have your desired consistency, sprinkle the slime with the shells and animals. Have fun!

 

Shark Marshmallow Pops 

Ingredients: 

  • Giant marshmallows
  • 2 cups blue candy melts
  • 1 cup chocolate candy melts or chocolate chips
  • Small candy eyes
  • Lollipop sticks

Directions: 

  1. Place a lollipop stick into the bottom of each marshmallow. It is up to you on how many marshmallow pops you want to make.
  2. In the microwave, heat the blue candy melts. It should take about 3 – 4 minutes, stirring every 30 seconds until melted.
  3. Cover the entire marshmallow, except for a half oval at the bottom front, in the melted chocolate.

     

  4. Stick 2 candy eyes at the top and place in the freezer until the blue candy has hardened.
  5. While the marshmallows are in the freezer, use the remaining blue melted chocolate and pipe a small fin onto parchment paper. Place in the freezer.
  6. Once hardened, peel the fins off the paper. Dip the bottom into the melted blue chocolate and place on top of the marshmallow.
  7. In the microwave, melt the chocolate candy melts for 2 – 3 minutes, stirring every 30 seconds.
  8. With the melted chocolate, pipe a zig-zag teeth/mouth on the white part of the marshmallow. You can also add extra decorations to your shark with the chocolate.

Enjoy!

xoxo,

Megan

 

 

 

 

 

23 Ideas for Better Self-Care This Weekend

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Recently, I have discovered the true value of self-care. In the past few years, I did things that I considered to be self-care, but never truly understood the importance of taking care of yourself. Yes, I love to help others, but to effectively do so, I need to make sure I’m healthy and able first. Also, it is helpful for me to divide my self-care into “categories” of physical, mental, and emotional. That way, I can make sure all areas are covered. Below are some ways to fit self-care into your daily schedule:

Physical: 

  • Go for a walk
  • Dance
  • Swim
  • Play with a dog
  • Clean and reorganize a space in your home
  • Take a relaxing bath
  • Drink water

Mental: 

  • Read a book
  • Journal
  • Turn your phone OFF
  • Do a DIY project
  • Color
  • Take pictures
  • Take a long, deep breath
  • Watch an old movie

Emotional: 

  • Meditate
  • Practice yoga or exercise
  • Light a candle
  • Talk with a friend
  • Write down a list of things you’re grateful for
  • Take a nap
  • Bake cookies for a family member or friend
  • Donate or volunteer

Whether it is an hour or only five minutes, take time for yourself every day. Sometimes you have to make yourself a priority, in order to be a better person for the ones you loved.

xoxo,

Megan

A Recipe for #SharkWeek: Tasty Shark Poke Cake

Today’s shark-related post is all about food. This Shark Poke Cake recipe is adapted from delish.com and is delicious to eat. Plus, you can turn the recipe into a cupcake version. Just use a cupcake pan instead of a cake pan, as well as, one doughnut and fin per cupcake. Remember to also adjust the needed number of ingredients for a dozen or so cupcakes. For example, you’ll need 12 fruit roll-ups, not one.
Enjoy!
Ingredients:
  • 1 box vanilla cake mix plus ingredients for cake mix
  • 1 1/2 cups white chocolate chips, melted
  • Blue food coloring
  • Black food coloring
  • 1 strawberry fruit roll-up
  • 3 mini powdered sugar doughnuts
  • 2 cups marshmallow Fluff
  • 1 teaspoon water
  • 3 cups whipped topping

Directions: 

  1. Preheat oven to 350º and grease baking pan. Set aside.
  2. Prepare cake mix according to the box directions. Add a few drops of blue food coloring and stir together. (The cake will resemble the ocean.) Bake until done, about 25 minutes. Once cool, poke holes all over the cake.
  3. Combine the marshmallow fluff and water. Microwave for about 10 seconds. Pour the mixture all over the cake, making sure the holes are filled.
  4. In another bowl, add 5 drops of the blue food coloring to the whipped topping. Fold together. Frost the cake with the icing and decorate with shark fins and life preservers.

To make the shark fin decorations, mix the melted white chocolate with a few drops of the black food coloring. Using a piping bag or sandwich bag with a hole, pipe fin shapes (similar to triangles) onto a parchment paper-lined baking sheet and freeze until hard. Once frozen, add a drop of marshmallow fluff onto the bottom of the fins and place on the cake’s icing.

To make the life preservers, cut the fruit roll up into 3-inch long pieces. Then, each piece again into four pieces. Wrap four strips around a powdered doughnut and secure with the marshmallow fluff.

xoxo,

Megan

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

A Piedmont Triad Staycation

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

xoxo,

Megan

New Neighbors? No Worries!

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There’s a house in your neighborhood that’s for sale. After anticipating who will move in, the big day finally arrives and now you have new neighbors. You’re excited to go over and meet the newest additions to your community, but when is too soon or too late to introduce yourself? Do you bring a welcome gift or not?

For new neighbors, moving to a new neighborhood can be a time full of anxiety. Making an effort to introduce yourself helps them feel more comfortable. There are many polite gestures a person can make to help welcome the new neighbors into the community.

  • Introduce yourself  However, wait a few days before going over. Let them settle and start unpacking before stopping by to introduce yourself. If you happen to bump into them while outside, keep it brief with a simple hello, give your name, and say you’ll stop by again.
  • Bring other neighbors with you  There is no better way to introduce the new neighbors to the whole neighborhood than by bringing others with you. This tip can help relieve any possible awkwardness in creating a new conversation. Also, introducing yourself as a group will limit the number of times neighbors will stop at the new family’s house. This is also a great way to get your new neighbors interested and involved in neighborhood communities or watches.
  • Include baked goods  There is nothing a sweet treat can’t overcome. This traditional gesture is one many people appreciate. However, keep in mind possible allergies people might have and include a list of ingredients. Another option would be purchasing baked goods to deliver.
  • Bring a bottle of wine  Another kind gesture is gifting a bottle of wine. This drink is considered a traditional housewarming gift and can be a great accent to food. Some tips to remember are to choose a bottle of wine you enjoy. This way, if you are invited over, it can be used as a way to get to know each other. If including the wine in a welcome basket, pair it with foods or snacks that go well with that type of wine.
  • Host a party in their honor  Whether it is a cocktail party, block party, or dinner party, host an event for a few families or the entire neighborhood. This provides the new family one place to meet everyone in a comfortable environment. Block parties are great ways to introduce the children to neighborhood kids. Remember to give the new neighbors time to settle in before throwing the event.
  • Create a local list  This is helpful especially if the family has moved from another town. Create a list of local services, restaurants, and businesses, as well as other valuable information. Also, provide contact information for the Neighborhood Watch and a neighborhood directory.
  • Give them a local specialty  Each town has its own local treats. Give your new neighbors samples of local specialties or add them in their welcome basket. Gift certificates are also a nice way to help ease the stress of moving. Presenting them with a local specialty will help them learn about their new home and community.
  • Invite them to neighborhood groups  If your neighborhood has community groups, invite the new neighbors to attend a meeting with you. It will give them a chance to meet other members in the neighborhood and hear their views. Also, consider inviting them to book clubs, garden clubs, or school groups, such as the PTA.
  • Respect their privacy  The most important thing you can do for your new neighbors is respecting their privacy. It can be tough being the strangers in the neighborhood. Sometimes people don’t like meeting new people and might not seem friendly. It could also be because they are adjusting to a new area or they are more private people. Whatever the reason is, don’t take it personally and still smile when you see each other. When it comes to introducing yourself to these types of neighbors, keep it brief and polite, and then leave. If they are busy, suggest possibly meeting another time that works for them.

When a new family moves in your neighborhood, it can be an exciting time. But, it can also be stressful for the new neighbors. Remember to be polite and do your best to help make them feel comfortable in their new surroundings.

xoxo,

Megan

Nana’s Homemade Mac and Cheese

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The last week before Christmas can be stressful and busy. There is last-minute shopping, baking treats for loved ones, and finalizing Christmas Eve and Day plans. While this time is enjoyable, you might not be thinking about your daily life practices, such as eating regular meals. Never fear, I have the perfect to-go dish for any pre-Christmas dinner – my Nana’s homemade mac and cheese (my favorite meal ever!)

Nana’s Homemade Mac and Cheese: 

Ingredients:

  • 8 ounces elbow macaroni
  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1/8 teaspoon dry mustard
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon pepper
  • 2 cups milk
  • 2 cup shredded cheddar cheese

Directions:

  1. Cook macaroni for 9 minutes. Drain, cover, and set aside. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. In medium saucepan, melt butter. Blend in flour, mustard, salt, and pepper.
  3. Cook until mixture is smooth and bubbly; gradually add in milk.
  4. Cook and stir over medium heat until mixture boils; simmer 1 minute, stirring constantly.
  5. Gradually mix in cheese. Stir over low heat until cheese is melted.
  6. Add pasta; mix together lightly and pour into 2-quart casserole.
  7. Bake 25 minutes.

Enjoy!

xoxo,

Megan

 

Two Ingredient Pumpkin Cookies

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I love this time of the year, because it means… everything pumpkin! There’s pumpkin pies, pumpkin lattes, and pumpkins cookies. I hope you enjoy this simple, easy two ingredient recipe for these delicious pumpkin cookies.

Ingredients:

  • 1 can pumpkin
  • 1 box spice cake mix

Directions:

Mix the ingredients together. Once the dough is mixed, roll into small balls and place onto an ungreased cookie sheet. Bake at 350 for 10-13 minutes.

Enjoy!

xoxo,

Megan