A Delicious Look into Cookbook Book Clubs

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Book clubs have been around for decades and have introduced the love of reading to many people. However, there is a new type of book club that is gaining in popularity – a cookbook book club. Basically, it is a book club where attendees bring food. The premise behind this type of club is attendees choose a recipe from a cookbook, prepare the dish, and bring the dish and the cookbook to the meeting.

Steps to Beginning 

  1. The first step to starting a cookbook book club is deciding on the logistics of the club. Think about who will join, family and friends, where you’ll meet, and when you’ll meet. Will the club meet at the same place at the same time or will it rotate between members’ houses and dates? Also, organize how you’ll pick the cookbooks. For example, is each attendee going to be making recipes from the same cookbook or different ones? Try to get at least 5-10 members, so you’ll have enough attendees to showcase a wide variety of dishes. Be careful your club isn’t too small or too big – remember you are going to be eating, so there will be some cost involved in preparing the meals. Lastly, all members don’t have to be culinary geniuses. This is a time to share dishes, as well as cooking tips and tricks with others.
  2. Next, plan your inaugural meeting. Remember to set your date and location. Then, choose your cookbook, if you decide to use one cookbook for all members. Your next step is to send out invitations, printed or digitally. You could even create a group on social media for members to communicate. If you decide on members choosing their own books, this is a great avenue for attendees to say which cookbook they are using for that meeting.
  3. Associate meetings with themes. For example, host a meeting that is family favorite recipes from tried and true cookbooks or only dessert recipes. You could also assign a meeting to honor a famous chef. Maybe it will be the Barefoot Contessa night and attendees will choose one of her cookbooks and prepare a dish.
  4. One of the benefits of having a social media group of attendees is that it allows for better organization of the group. There is generally more cost involved with this type of book club, compared to your traditional one; create a list on the group or in a google doc for members to list what they are bringing, in regard to recipes, plates, cups, napkins, and silverware. All responsibilities shouldn’t fall on the meeting’s host, unless otherwise decided upon in the club. Also, members can discuss recent recipes and cookbooks within the club when a meeting time isn’t near.
  5. Don’t forget about the drinks. It can be as simple as having bottles of water for everyone. It can also be as extravagant as bringing new drink recipes to share. This element should also be discussed with your club’s online group.
  6. Think about ways to make the meetings interactive and fun. Of course, food makes everything more fun, but also include possible games and conversation starters. Try going around and having members share why they chose a particular cookbook, or recipe, and their process for making the dish. You can take it a step further and focus on a single dish per meeting. For example, each member could host the event and choose the dish. Then, at the meeting, attendees will prepare the dish together and receive copies of the recipe.
  7. Speaking of recipe copies, always have them for members to take home. This is especially important if the recipes come from different books. However, if you chose to use one cookbook per meeting, share the book between members. That way, every member won’t feel as if they have to purchase the various cookbooks for each meeting.

There is nothing better that brings people together than food and a cookbook book club does just that. Ease your members into this new concept by letting them prepare dishes from a cookbook they have at home and then let your creativity run wild. There is no rhyme or reason, rules or laws to what a cookbook book club should entail.

xoxo,

Megan

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Midweek Motivation

Happy Wednesday! If you are like me, you can sometimes fall into a midweek slump. This slump is composed of tiredness and stress. To overcome it, I recite inspirational quotes throughout the rest of the week. These affirmations give me the strength to press forward and stay strong. So, I thought I would share some of my favorites with you.

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xoxo,

Megan

To Inspire and Motivate: Princess Diana

22 years ago today, the world got a little bit darker. On August 31st, 1997 Princess Diana passed away in a tragic accident. Often, I will write about inspirations in my “To Inspire and Motivate” series. Today and every day, we are still inspired by Diana, Princess of Wales.

 

“Carry out a random act of kindness, with no expectation of reward, safe in the knowledge that one day someone might do the same for you.” -Princess Diana

Following the adventures of Great Britain’s royal family is somewhat a hobby of mine. How can you not love Prince Harry and the adorable Prince George and Princess Charlotte? One of my biggest inspirations comes from this family- the late Princess Diana. I don’t like to refer to the Princess of Wales as “the late,” because for many people, myself included, her legacy still lives on.

Princess Diana devoted her time to her two sons, Prince William and Prince Harry, and her charity work. Her legacy of compassion and helping others, no matter who they were, still rings throughout the world. When there was a need, the People’s Princess was always there.

For me, I will always remember the Princess through her acts of kindness and her willingness. I was young when she died and don’t really remember much of her life before her death. But, when a person’s legacy lives one long after they are gone, that is when you know they made a huge impact on the world.

Princess Diana has and will always inspire and motivate me to be kinder, more compassionate, and always lend a helping hand to others in need.

Singer Elton John perfectly summed up Lady Diana’s actions in his song “Candle in the Wind.”

“You were the grace that placed itself, where lives were torn apart. You called out to our country and you whispered to those in pain…And your footsteps will always fall here, along England’s greenest hills. Your candle’s burned out long before, your legend ever will.”

xoxo,

Megan

Failing is Okay; Just Be Sure to Learn From It

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We all have those moments where we fail, make mistakes, or things don’t go the way originally planned. Those moments can hurt. Those moments can make us mad. Those moments can also be learning experiences.

Learning from failure can be one of the toughest, yet most rewarding things a person can do. No one likes to admit they did something wrong. When you accept the fact that you made a mistake, you earn trust, respect, and learn humility.

Life is just a big growing experience. You learn, you fail, but in the end, every single experience you overcome makes you better and stronger.

As I searched for a quote about failure (thank you Pinterest) to tie up the post, I found hundreds; however, all basically stated that without failure, there can be no growth.

It’s okay to make mistakes and fail. Just don’t let them hold you down. When you fail, take a moment to stop, breathe, and then move on.

xoxo,

Megan

DIY Mason Jar Gift Ideas

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It is always nice to give a loved one in your life a meaningful, handmade gift. 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 the 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

Rules for…Well, Me

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Last week on Facebook, I noticed mothers giving their daughters a set of rules. This list included 36 pieces of advice for the daughters to use in life. As I skimmed through the tips, I thought about the importance of these encouragements and how everyone needs to hear them. Below are a few words of advice that now serve as rules for…well, me.

1. Make your bed every day; even if it’s right before you get in it.
2. Don’t wear holey underwear in case you’re in an accident and they cut your clothes off.
3. It’s okay to cry when you’re hurt. It’s also okay to smash things; but, wash your face, clean your mess, and get up off the floor when you’re done. You don’t belong down there.
4. Seek out the people and places that resonate with your soul.
5. Just because you can doesn’t mean you should.
6. 5-second rule. It’s just dirt. There are worse things in a fast-food cheeseburger.
7. Be less sugar, more spice, and only as nice as you’re able to without compromising yourself.
8. Hold your heroes to a high standard. Be your own hero.
9. If you can’t smile with your eyes, don’t smile. Insincerity is nothing to aspire to.
10. Never lie to yourself.
11. Your body, your rules.
12. If you have an opinion, you better know why.
13. Practice your passions.
14. Ask for what you want. The worse thing they can say is no.
15. Wish on stars and dandelions, then get to work to make them happen.
16. Don’t skimp on good sheets.
17. Fall hard and forever in love with nothing but yourself.
18. Say Please, Thank You, and Pardon Me, whenever the situation warrants it.
19. Reserve I’m sorry for when you truly are.
20. Naps are for grown-ups, too.
21. Question everything except your own intuition.
22. You have enough. You are enough.
23. You are amazing! Don’t let anyone ever make you feel you are not. If someone does….walk away. You deserve better.
24. No matter where you are, you can always go home.
25. Be happy, say your prayers and remember your roots.
26. Say what you mean and mean what you say.

xoxo,

Megan

Why I “Work Smarter, Not Harder”

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Every day I try to use the motto “Work smarter, not harder.” Everyone has their own definition of this phrase, but it generally means using your thinking skills to minimize tasks and extra steps, so that you use your time wisely and more effectively to get things done quickly. For example, instead of putting something off that would take five minutes or less to complete, do it immediately and move on to the next task.

The main purpose behind the “work smarter, not harder” motto is that you, as the individual, are able to prioritize your own needs and build upon your strengths and weaknesses. You are able to visualize what you need to focus on, see if there is anything you can cut from your workload or lifestyle, ask for help if needed, and figure out how you work in the quickest and most effective manner possible. Everyone has their own answers and meaning to the motto. Now, the question is: how do you work smarter, not harder? Take a look below to see some of the tips on how you can put this motto to use in your life.

  1. Move and work in blocks. Instead of working hour after hour, divide up your work into equal sections. For each section of your to-do list, change up your location for working, whether it is inside, outside, or at home. The most important thing is to not set exact time limits for when you’ll finish a certain section, but to move when you have a certain section finished. Be sure to take a quick break or a fast walk to refresh yourself after each task.
  2. Check your email first thing. This is mainly where I get the bulk of my to-do list. See what items you need to prioritize and get those done first. Then, move on to the smaller tasks that will take less time to finish.
  3. Communication is key. Collaboration and communication can either make or break a project. Communicating effectively with other team members will help eliminate any mistakes or misunderstandings, or having to rework parts of the project.
  4. Don’t multitask. As much as we love to do so, multitasking can actually cause more trouble (and work) than needed. Stay focused on one task at a time and complete that task before moving on to the next.
  5. Create a routine and stick with it. When it comes to your work, to be more effective and efficient, it is best to try and do most of it at the same time each day. According to research, when we establish routines, our brains become in the habit of completing the task over and over again. Pretty soon, you’ll be able to accomplish a task quickly with less preparation. Essentially, you do the job on autopilot.
  6. Relieve stress. When you are stressed, it can be hard to achieve anything on your to-do list. Let’s refer back to tip #1. The breaks between the sections of time will help you ease your stress and stay calm while working. Also, having a clear mind allows you to think through your task and helps prevent mistakes and misunderstandings.
  7. Use your “GPS.” In her book, It’s About Time! author Mitzi Weinman explains GPS as “goal, purpose, and scope.” According to Weinman, this system can be used to get the whole picture and how you need to accomplish it. For example, you can see a task completed and then envision the various steps needed to completing it. Also, “GPS” can help you set goals for each of those steps until it is done (goal). Always ask yourself “why” we are doing something and how it fits into the larger goal (purpose).

“Work smarter, not harder” is a motto everyone should try at least once in their lives. Give it a shot – you might happily discover you are able to get more done in a shorter amount of time.

xoxo,

Megan

Why We Should All be Celebrating Mondays

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Have you ever had a case of the Sunday scaries? You know, the time you realize on a Sunday night that Monday is coming? According to research, two-thirds of the population state that Monday is the worst day of the week. And why not? It is the start of a new week, the start of several continuous days of work and errands, and many days until the next weekend. In addition, research shows that people put pressure on themselves to start something new or quit something. Let’s face it, we all have said: “we’ll start Monday.” However, we can change that. We can change the way we think about Mondays and can make them one of our favorite days of the week. In fact, people across social media and online are already celebrating Mondays.

Recently, I read the book The Pepper Effect: Tap into the Magic of Creativity, Collaboration, and Innovation by Sean Gaillard. This novel is meant for educators and included lessons on how to implement the ingenuity and imagination of The Beatles into schools. Throughout the book, Gaillard touched on many topics, including why we should celebrate Mondays. After a quick Google search on the idea, I discovered that many people had already taken part in this concept.

For Gaillard, celebrating Mondays started with a desire to create bigger professional learning networks for teachers, while utilizing social media. To do this, Gaillard developed the hashtag #CelebrateMonday. Its purpose is to start each week with positivity and highlight the activities teachers are doing throughout the community, as well as, teaching children to be responsible citizens online. Essentially, it is all about recognizing the good things happening in the world of education and sharing them with others world-wide. Since then, many people, mainly in the educational community, have been using the hashtag and starting the week off on a good note.

As for those who aren’t teachers, principals, or school administrators, there are still many ways we can celebrate Monday. After all, don’t most people dread the start of a new week and count down the days until Friday? Referring back to my Google search, I noticed one particular site that put a new perspective on the concept. Writer Marc Seigel posted on his blog, A Flipped Approach, the article “Let’s Start Celebrating Mondays.” In this post, Seigel stated that the second day of the week is a fresh start and a clean slate. In addition, he added the image with the caption “T.G.I.M.” – thank goodness, it’s Monday. Usually, you say this for Friday, but have you ever thought about saying it for Monday? It might be time to start. Speaking of starting, T.G.I.M. is quickly rising in popularity, thanks to the lifestyle website, Thrive Global. This site has started the social campaign to change people’s way of thinking.

There are many opportunities for people to alter their attitude towards Monday. Start thinking of the day as a new beginning of a new week. However, don’t forget to celebrate your accomplishments and goals. For example, celebrate Monday by looking at how far you came the previous week or how much you have accomplished on a tough goal. Ease the pressure of the day; it is just another day of the week. Another idea is to celebrate those around you. Give your co-workers a high five in the lunchroom or tell someone you are proud to be their friend or ask them about the best thing that happened the week before.

Monday blues don’t have takeover your week. Instead, kick off the next seven days with a celebration. Over time, more and more people will begin to start celebrating Mondays and before you know it, Mondays will be the best day.

xoxo,

Megan

Self-Coaching Yourself to A Better and Happier You

Dictionary.com defines “life coach” as “a person who counsels and encourages clients on matters having to do with careers or personal challenges.” The role of a life coach includes helping others set goals, organizing different areas of a person’s life, making a huge change or decision, overcoming a tough challenge, and more. They are there to provide support and accountability during a time of improvement in a person’s life. Most of the time, people turn to a professional life coach for assistance. Yet, did you know you can be your own life coach, also known as a self-coaching, and assist yourself in these same situations as a life coach would?

According to professional experts, self-coaching occurs when you apply the same techniques as a life coach would to your own life and do it yourself. It is important to understand that determination and dedication are needed to self-coach. As a teacher, I encourage my students to use a growth mindset. This type of thinking means a person’s abilities, goals, and skills can be developed and accomplished through dedication and hard work. It is a mindset that energizes people to never give up and stay positive. When a person self-coaches, having a growth mindset is a must and a basis for it all. Along with the support of using a growth mindset, a life coach can provide timeliness, accountability, and motivation. All of which a person can provide for themselves.

One of the hardest things can be deciding when to start something new or make a change. Think about the situation and what you are changing or working towards. Did you receive a promotion or new job offer? Are you wanting to lose weight? Then, ask yourself: are you anxious, depressed, or restless about a certain part of your life? Are you ready for something new? Will this make you a better person? Honestly answering these questions can signify to you whether you are ready or not to self-coach.

Now that you have decided the time is right, try to focus on only one aspect of your life at a time. Go back to your answers for the questions above and think about the situation to which they applied.  Was it for your career, health, finances, etc.? Sometimes it is not possible to focus on only one area. If this is the case, break your actions for the different areas into small steps and complete one at a time. Martha Beck, a professional life coach, states in the article, “Tips from the Pros: How to Be Your Own Life Coach,” to start with the “area of least satisfaction. If a person has a good life, but there are some things that aren’t great, work on the stuff that’s not great. If you have a terrible life, work on what’s most terrible.” Then, turn your area for improvement into a goal with a timeline.

According to Doctor David Rock, author of Your Brain at Work, goals should be short and able to be stated in three to seven words. As for the timeline, the goals should be approachable, achievable, and realistic. For instance, if your goal is to lose 10 pounds, consider how much time you realistically need to accomplish it. However, don’t be too hard on yourself if you need to make a change here or there. Just don’t stray too far off track. A way to hold yourself accountable with your goals is by using a journal. Write down everything you do each day that pertains to that goal – good and bad. In addition, use your journal to rate your “quality of life” as you are working towards something. Beck recommends using a scale of zero to ten and rate your quality of life daily. Ten is super happy and zero is miserable. In the same article, she says, “The purpose is to look back and see what you were doing on the days you felt bad. It’s a way of looking at: where did my happiness go? Where did I find joy?”

Lastly, be sure to use a growth mindset and change how you think about your goal. Instead of thinking that you have to do something, think about it in terms that you get to do something.

Anyone can be a life coach for their own lives. Through using the techniques of self-coaching, you can be on the way to a better and happier you. Plus, you’ll feel empowered for accomplishing goals you might have been putting on the back burner for a long time.

xoxo,

Megan

A “Win” for Me

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As we start the first day of a three day weekend, I can’t help, but think about everything that has happened. I am wrapping up my first year as a teacher and completely understand the “teacher struggles of May.” (T-minus 11 days until summer, by the way.) Teaching has been the most challenging yet wonderful thing I have ever done. Also, it is one of the most fulfilling things I have encountered. Those students…my kids…are why I try to work hard and be the best teacher I can day after day.

No matter how much you enjoy something, bad things still happen. Since March, I have been struggling with my depression and anxiety BIG TIME. On Sunday, March 31st, my sweet Nana went to Heaven. She was more than a grandmother to me. Growing up, my mom, sister, and I lived with my grandparents and Nana was actually a second mother. She was there for every school event, summer day, and tough time. It is just now getting real that Nana is no longer with us.

Grief is an extra “ingredient” that makes dealing with depression and anxiety so hard. There have been days I didn’t want to get up. There have been days I felt as if I wasn’t the best teacher for my kids because I zoomed out too often. There have been days when I have laid and watched hours of Netflix in the dark. However, I have discovered that it is okay to be feeling this way. It is okay to grieve. But, it is also important to remember that things will get better.

This morning, I got my car inspected. Yes, it is a small thing, but I have been trying to do this for a while. It is a win and that is all I need right now. Good things happen. Three day weekends happen. So, right now, I’m going to take my win and enjoy these days, the sunshine, and the unofficial start of summer.

xoxo,

Megan