Life Hacks: Cheaper Ways to Shop Online

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One of my favorite things to do is online shopping. It’s easy and convenient. Is there anything better than having your purchases arrive on your doorstep, without having to deal with traffic and crowds to get them? With all of the advantages of online shopping, there is one disadvantage: saving money. It can be hard to shop without using a discount code or keeping track of how much you are spending. However, never fear, there are ways to add money to your wallet while shopping online.

  • As with any type of shopping, always look for coupons first. Websites like couponmom.com and retailmenot.com are places to search for discount and promotional codes to use. Also, see if there is an option for free shipping. Sometimes when you sign up for a free trial membership on a website, there is free shipping for a certain amount of time. Another tactic is googling the online store with the words “coupon code.” Try finding several codes and then decide which one will help you save the most.
  • Speaking of shipping, try to avoid the fees. If you spend a certain amount, the store will offer free shipping in return. Try to think of everything you might need and purchase at one time. If you can’t avoid the extra cost, add the shipping into your budget for the site. That way you won’t overspend.
  • See if a retailer is on social media and give them a “like” or “follow.” Many merchants will post special sales and promotions on the sites.
  • Sign up for a store’s email list for coupons and special offers. Some retailers will give you a discount just for signing up. Also, there are online-only coupons.
  • Some sites will allow you to “subscribe” for items you purchase often. In the future, you’ll save time with reordering and the site will give you a percentage off for being a frequent buyer.
  • Just because you favor one website over another, doesn’t mean that site will always have the best buys. Research the product’s name on the Internet before making your final purchase. This way you’ll know where you are getting the best buy and a possible discount code could pop up. Also, don’t get hung up on one certain brand, especially if it is popular. Similar products can be just as good or better and might be less expensive.
  • Plan out your shopping to where you shop a few days ahead of purchasing your items. For example, add the products to your shopping cart and then leave it alone for a few days. During that time, the retailer could let you know you haven’t completed your purchase. They might also provide you with a discount to persuade you to spend money on their site. Being patient can pay off.
  • If possible, buy used. With items such as toiletries, food, and others, this is not an option. But with books, games, clothing, etc. most of the time, buying used will be a lower price than brand new. One time in college, I bought a used book for two cents, compared to over a hundred dollars brand new.
  • If you do a lot of online shopping, create an alternative email address for that purpose only. Check the email often for deals and coupons. Also, this prevents junk mail from clogging up your main email address. Also, stores can give your address to other businesses to send you promotional material.
  • When it comes to booking trips and cruises, there is a chance for last-minute deals. Last-minute booking sites will offer prices at low rates, due to it being the off-season or based on cancellations received.
  • Lastly, if online shopping is your most common method of shopping, ask for gift cards during the holidays and for your birthday. It is like asking for a gift certificate to your favorite store, just online. Stack up your gift card with discount codes for extra savings on your favorite sites.

Online shopping can be fun, time-saving, and stress-free. Just don’t let your final total get away from you. The tips above will help prevent that and give you more chances to save.

xoxo,

Megan

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Recipe Wednesday: Mini Banana Cream Pies

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I’m crazy about bananas! They are one of my favorite fruits, so this easy and quick mini banana cream pies recipe is one of my favorites!

Ingredients:

1  roll Pillsbury refrigerated sugar cookies
1  box banana cream pudding, prepared according to package directions and chilled
1 banana
Whipped cream for topping

Directions:

1: Roll the sugar cookie dough into little balls. Using a mini-cupcake pan, place one ball in each spot (there should be 24 balls total).

2: Bake according to the directions on the dough package.

3: Once cool, fill up each cup with banana cream pudding and top with whipped cream and a slice of banana, if desired.

Enjoy!

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

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

DIY Citronella Candles

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Like me, many people love spending time outside in the summers, especially at night. Yet, one of the most annoying things about a summer night is the mosquitos. To conquer this challenge, it is common to use citronella candles. But, you have to be careful about what exactly is in the candle. After all, they are used to repel insects. Most of the brands are safe and use citronella oil, an essential oil, as the basis. However, you can never be too careful and sometimes it is best to make the candle yourself. Trust me, this DIY citronella candle is quick, easy, and you’ll enjoy it all summer long.

Materials:

  • 1 lime
  • 1 larger lemon
  • Spring of rosemary
  • Citronella essential oil
  • 1 floating candle
  • Water
  • Mason jar

Directions: 

  1. Cut the lemon and lime into slices, widthwise. Add 2 lemon slices to the bottom of the jar. The slices need to be tightly pushed together, otherwise, they will float to the top when water is added. Do the same process with 2 slices of lime.
  2. Next, vertically place a sprig of rosemary on the inside of the jar. It should almost reach the top.
  3. Fill three-fourths of the mason jar with water. If the fruit rises to the top, push it back down.
  4. Add a few drops of the citronella essential oil and a floating candle.

Enjoy!

xoxo,

Megan

 

 

 

 

How to Take the Stress Out of Traveling with Kids

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It’s summertime! And with summertime come trips and family vacations. Spending long hours traveling in a car, on a plane, or another mode of transportation can be tiring on both parents and children. But, there are tricks to keeping kids engaged and not asking the typical, “Are we there yet?”

Keep the Activities Coming: Pack a travel bag full of games, puzzles, coloring books, stickers, and more to keep your kids occupied. If you are traveling for several hours, try handing out a new item once per hour. Take the travel bag a step further and create a small bag for each child. This bag can be a pencil pouch or something of a similar size and include items that are interesting to that child. Lastly, play family games along the way. Have printable road bingo or a road trip scavenger hunt. Another classic family game is the license plates game, where everyone competes to see how many different license plates they can find. When traveling by airplane, it can be hard to pack all of these items into your carry-on. Instead, try downloading kid-friendly apps with games and videos on your iPhone or iPad. This way, your children will stay engaged in an activity other than running up and down the aisles of the plane.

Pack a Snack Bag without Sweets: Kids will get hungry going from place to place. Be sure to have their favorite treats to ease their hunger and avoid the hangry mood (hungry plus angry). However, remember one thing: don’t include sweets. There is nothing worse than being in a public tourist attraction with a child having a sugar rush. Include in the bag savory treats like cheese cubes, pretzels, fruit, and veggies. Don’t forget water to drink!

Start a Travel Journal: Put an educational spin on your trip and have your kids start a travel journal. This travel journal can include drawings, lists, and stories about the interesting places you visit, the food you eat, and the various activities you do. Also, collect postcards from different places. With these postcards, you can either write a message on the back and mail them to yourself or include them in the journal. Another way to engage your kids in the travel journal is to give them a camera to take pictures. This child-friendly camera will allow kids to capture their favorite sites and what interests them. Types of cameras can include disposable or Polaroid.

Have a First-Aid Kit and a Clean-up Kit: When you are traveling with kids, anything can happen. Be prepared with a First-Aid kit and a clean-up kit for spills. In the First-Aid kit, include band-aids, gauze pads, a digital thermometer, cold pack, sunscreen, bug spray, aloe vera, saline solution, antibacterial wipes, medicine, and anything else you would normally include. For the clean-up kit, put in antibacterial wipes, paper towels, small garbage bags, zip-lock bags, and extra clothing and diapers.

Plan Ahead: Plan your trip and make your reservations well in advance. Along with hotel and flight reservations, buy tickets for attractions ahead of time. In addition, plan out a schedule for your trip, including the various activities for each day. Check out the websites for the places you’ll visit, see the nearby restaurants, and other sites to help your trip go smoothly. However, one of the most important things to remember is to stay flexible! If you have one attraction planned for a day and end up doing something else, don’t worry! Don’t plan too much or too little. The ultimate goal of the trip is to have fun and make memories with your family. Also, have a plan of what you’re going to pack in regards to clothes for your kids. Have a to-do list and schedule of what needs to be done in the final days leading up to your trip.

Bring Your Child’s Must-need Items: Don’t forget to bring your child’s favorite stuffed animal, toy, or blanket—anything they normally carry around and need to have at home. These items will help kids feel safe and comfortable while exploring new surroundings. Plus, it might help prevent some emotional break-downs.

Traveling with kids can sometimes be stressful. However, use the tips above to ease that stress and create lasting family memories.

xoxo,

Megan

My Lesson in Patience

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We all have those moments – the ones that make you stop in your tracks and think about a lesson you just learned. Recently, I had one of those moments. A few weeks ago, I discovered plants that would start growing in a pot on your windowsill and could then be transplanted into the ground. Never really having luck with plants, I decided to give planting another try. I figured I didn’t have much to lose, as the small plants were less than $5.00 (thank you Target dollar section). My seven plants ranged from daisies to watermelons. Once home, I prepared my plants as instructed, placed them on the windowsill, and hoped for the best.

After a few days of watering and waiting, my patience almost got the best of me. I kept thinking “Why aren’t the plants growing?” Keep in mind, it had been less than a week, but I wanted to see results. Then, it hit me; the moment that made me stop in my tracks and reflect on a life lesson. I was in a hurry because I wanted my plants to grow. I wanted tomatoes, cucumbers, and fresh daisies without the wait. It takes time for the seeds to grow into plants, but that’s not what I wanted. The life lesson I learned through this realization was the importance of being patient, and in time, all things will grow and become what they’re meant to be.

Yes, this lesson is probably one you have heard all your life, myself included. However, sometimes these lessons don’t stick with you until these “realization moments” occur. According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, patience can be defined as “the habit or fact of being patient and being able to bear without complaint.” Unfortunately, one of the main things about being patient is waiting, waiting for the right time for something to happen. My plants will grow in their own, right time. I can’t dig my fingers into the soil and pull on the seeds and make them grow. After all, these seeds aren’t Jack’s magic beanstalk seeds. I had to be patient. I had to wait.

Quickly, I began to think about how I could use this new nugget of knowledge in other aspects of my life. What other things have I been rushing through or wanting to immediately happen? How many times have I wanted Monday to turn into Friday? How many times have I just wanted something to be over with? The beauty of patience is that it allows you the chance to take things in and actually notice your surroundings. You can enjoy the present and make more memories. Yes, that can be easier said than done. Sometimes life and stress get in the way, and we live in a world where we want things at our fingertips instantly (hello, online shopping and overnight shipping?). However, patience is a virtue, one that we must strive for each day. It’s a virtue I’m still striving for and learning.

I’m reminded of the value of patience through the story of the Chinese bamboo tree. Within this tale, a Chinese bamboo tree spends four years growing underneath the soil and in its fifth year of life, it sprouts to be over 80 feet tall. Within those four years, some tree farmers could lose their patience, while others continue on, because they know the trees are creating a strong foundation for what’s to come. Without being patient, the farmers might not be able to see the beauty of the Chinese bamboo trees.

Just like my plants, anything worth having takes time and patience to become what it is meant to be. While you have patience waiting for something, you learn more about yourself and lessons that you can take throughout your life. It’s a hard lesson to learn, but there will be many “realization moments” in your life that will help those lessons settle in. Thanks to my plants, I have been able to understand the value of this virtue and how to apply it to my life. Plus, I’m still perfecting that skill, as only four out of seven of my plants have bloomed so far. Here’s to having patience (and hope)!

xoxo,

Megan

DIY Projects for All Ages

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Technology is a big part of children’s lives today. While iPhones, tablets, computers, and more can be a creative outlet, there is nothing like doing a DIY arts and crafts project with your little ones. The ideas below can be used for kids of all ages on snow days, during the summer, and at any time year-round. All of the supplies can be found in local craft stores, discount stores, or right in your own home. Don’t worry if a craft doesn’t go as planned or about sticking straight to the directions. Just be creative and have fun.

Homemade Play Dough

Supplies:

  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 cup salt
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 tsp. vegetable oil
  • 4 tsp. cream of tarter
  • food coloring

Directions:

  1. Mix all the supplies together, except the food coloring, in a large pot. Place on the stove on medium heat. The mixture will be more liquid at first, but then will form into a dough consistency.
  2. Stir continually for two minutes until the mixture completely develops into dough.
  3. Remove from heat and cool. Then, knead the dough for a few minutes.
  4. Divide into as many colors as you want and add food coloring.

 

Tin Can Wind Chime:

Supplies:

  • tin cans in different sizes
  • acrylic paint
  • paintbrushes
  • painter’s tape
  • hammer and nails
  • twine
  • scissors
  • 10” wide embroidery hoop
  • hot-glue gun

Directions:

  1. Remove cans’ labels and rinse out with hot water. Let dry completely.
  2. Paint cans a solid color, applying two coats. Then, paint designs of your choosing on the cans. The painter’s tape can be handy with making stripes and shapes.
  3. With the hammer and a nail, create a small hole through the center of one end of a can. Cut a string from the twine, thread through the hole, and knot on the inside. Vary the lengths of the twine for each can. Continue until all the cans have been nailed and twined.
  4. Wrap twine around the embroidery hoop until completely covered. Then, cut three pieces of twine to make a hanger. Tie each piece around the hoop and then bring together in a single knot at the end of the strings. Make sure the hoop hangs level.
  5. Finally, tie the cans around it, spacing evenly. Also, hang the cans at different heights, but close enough to hit each another when the wind blows. After tying the knot, add a drop of hot glue to keep it secure.

 

Repurposed Jewelry Magnets

Supplies:

  • old brooches
  • large buttons
  • old charms
  • old earrings
  • round magnets
  • hot-glue gun

Directions:

  1. Using a piece of jewelry, hot-glue a magnet to the back. Be sure to cut the round magnets to the size of the item, if needed.
  2. Place onto your refrigerator to hold artwork, reminders, report cards, and more.

 

Pool Noodle Sprinkler

Supplies:

  • foam pool noodle
  • small piece of foam
  • duct tape
  • skewer or ice pick
  • water hose

Directions:

  1. Puncture the pool noodle in multiple spots on all sides of the noodle with the skewer or ice pick. The more holes, the better.
  2. Stuff one end with a small piece of foam, and duct tape to secure.
  3. Slide the water hose into the other end of the noodle, pushing in a few inches. Then, turn water on.

 

Funny Face Flip Book:

Supplies:

  • white cardstock
  • cardboard
  • 3 metal book rings
  • hole punch
  • markers
  • scissors
  • stickers and googly eyes

Directions:

  1. Fold the white cardstock in half and cut down the middle. Then, fold the two halves in half again and cut. You should end up with four pieces. Then, cut the cardboard into the same sizes as the cardstock pieces, for a backing.
  2. Next, cut each piece of the cardstock into thirds. Punch a hole in one end of the pieces. Then, lay three pieces onto your cardboard and punch another hole in the cardboard. There should be three holes, matching up to your cardstock’s holes.
  3. Using the metal book rings, attach the cardstock pieces to your cardboard backing.
  4. Draw facial features onto each of the cardstock pieces. In the top sections, draw eyes, in the middle sections draw noses, and bottom sections draw mouths. Feel free to add eyelashes, eyebrows, teeth, etc. Get creative. Also, don’t forget to use the stickers and googly eyes.
  5. Once done, you can flip through the book, creating different face combinations.

xoxo,

Megan

 

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

To Travel Is To Explore

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This past weekend, my sister and brother-in-law moved to Kentucky. While I am missing them tremendously, I’m also excited for this new adventure for many reasons. You see, with them living in another state, I get to travel more often and see more places – one of my favorite things to do!

Growing up, I remember watching Travel Channel’s Samantha Brown and her shows, Great Hotels and Passport to Europe. For each episode, I kept thinking “Samantha has the best job in the world and I would love to have it.” As I watched the shows, I quickly realized I had a passion for traveling.

The reason why I travel is simple-to see the world and gain experiences. There is so much learning to be had outside of your comfort zone. My travel philosophy is to travel as much as possible, while learning about the history of an area and the people who live there. It also includes being adventurous and making memories. This philosophy plays into my five step travel list.

For every trip I take, I must:

  1. Take tons of pictures. I always come home with about 1,000+ photos.
  2. Meet and talk with the locals. You’ll get the best information about where to eat, what to do, and learn more about the area from a person who lives there.
  3. Research the location’s history and plan out my must-sees. However, I am careful to not plan too much and allow time for adventures.
  4. Get lost—on purpose. Take a back road, walk down a different street, just get out and explore.
  5. Go back to that same destination. It might not be the next year, or the year after that, but sometime in my life, I will make the time to go back.

If you want to get out of your comfort zone and see the world, you must travel. It doesn’t have to be a three week excursion. It can be a day trip to a nearby city or even a stay-cation in your own town. Just travel!

Trust me-adventure is out there. You just have to make up your mind and go!

xoxo,

Megan