Simply Southern Hush Puppies

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

Ingredients: 

3/4 cup self rising flour
1 cup self rising corn meal (not mix)
1 large egg, lightly beaten
1 small onion, finely minced 
1 pinch garlic powder
1 pinch onion powder
1 pinch old bay seasoning
1 Tbsp sugar
3/4 to 1 cup buttermilk
Canola oil for frying

Directions:

1. In a large mixing bowl, mix together flour and cornmeal. Add egg, onion and spices. Add buttermilk and stir with fork just until blended. Mixture should be farily stiff. Add a little bit more buttermilk, if necessary.
2. Heat oil in deep fryer to 375 degrees. Drop dough by teaspoons into hot oil and fry until hush puppies rise to the top and are golden brown. Remove from fryer and drain on paper towels.
Enjoy!
xoxo,
Megan

Head into the New Week with these Life Hacks

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I’m all for making life easier. So, when I find a tip I like to use, I feel obligated to pass it on. Here are my favorite top 7 life hacks (so far):

  1. If you mess up a voicemail for someone, press # to erase and start again.
  2. You can heal paper cuts immediately and stop the pain by rubbing chapstick over it.
  3. While on vacation, hide your emergency money in chapstick containers, lip balm containers, and other less noticeable places.
  4. Eat marshmallows to relieve toothaches, sore throats, and arthritis.
  5. If you ever break a glass, put a piece of bread on it. The bread will pick up all the small pieces of glass.
  6. Put candles in the freezer before using them. They will burn longer.
  7. In a public bathroom, the stall closest to the door is the cleanest. Studies show that this stall is the least used.

What are your favorite life hacks?

xoxo,

Megan

Hello, Winter!

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Happy Winter! Today is the first day of a new season and is the shortest day and longest night of the year in the Northern Hemisphere. December 21st is known as winter solstice and happens due to the tilt of the sun towards the Earth.

Celebrate the day with your family and friends. This simple craft will have your home smelling good all season long and makes a great Christmas decoration!

Clove Oranges

Materials:

  • An orange
  • Thin colored ribbon
  • Cloves

Directions: 

  1. Wrap the ribbon around the orange, twisting at the base, dividing the orange into quarters.
  2. Feed the ends under the piece of ribbon at the top of the orange.
  3. Tie a overhand knot at one end of the orange to keep the ribbon in place.
  4. Press cloves into the orange. Create any pattern you would like and be creative.
  5. Display your oranges in a bowl and hang onto your Christmas tree with extra ribbon for hanging.

xoxo,

Megan

 

 

DIY Halloween Costumes

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Every year on October 31st, people celebrate a day and night of trick-or-treating, eating candy, and wearing fun or scary costumes. This day, commonly known as Halloween, dates back to the ancient Celtic festival of Samhain. The Celts, who lived in current-day Ireland 2,000 years ago, celebrated their new year on November 1st. On the night of October 31st, they celebrated Samhain, a night when they believed the ghosts returned to earth and marked the end of summer. During these festivals, sacred bonfires were held by priests, and people would burn crops and sacrifice animals to the Celtic deities. Typically, the Celts wore costumes of animal heads and skins and tried to tell each other’s fortunes. The wearing of the costume during these festivals began the now common Halloween tradition.

Weeks before the big day, people will spend time and money finding the perfect Halloween costume. However, sometimes the price of your outfit can get expensive, when all the pieces and parts start adding up. Never fear, there are ways to create your wanted look without breaking the bank.

DIY Halloween costumes can be inexpensively made using common household and craft items. Think about materials that you already have, such as boxes, fabrics, buttons, pipe cleaners, cardstock, and clothing. Only buy the missing items at discount or craft stores. Need some ideas for DIY Halloween costumes? Take a look below for some creative and fun outfits.

Rosie the Riveter: Only a few items are needed to form this iconic look. All this costume requires are jeans, a denim shirt, and a red and white polka dot bandana.

Bumble Bee: This costume is great for adults and kids. Wear a black T-shirt and black leggings. Use elastic and yellow and black tulle for a skirt over the leggings. Tie the tulle, alternating the colors, to the elastic. Lastly, purchase a bee headband from Amazon or create one yourself. Take a plain headband, black or yellow, and four pipe cleaners, two black and two yellow. Twist a black and yellow pipe cleaner together and then twist to the headband on one side. Do the same with the remaining materials. Glue a yellow pom-pom to each set of pipe cleaners at the top.

Lion: You’ll be the king or queen of the jungle with this animal look. Begin with a yellow shirt, yarn, and brown eyeliner. Using the yarn, make the lion’s mane. First, wrap yarn around three of your fingers, circling as you go. Then, tie a piece of yarn through the hole around the rounds of yarn to secure. On the opposite side from where you just tied, cut across and fluff. This should make smaller threads, and a pom-pom look. Repeat until you have plenty of yarn pom-poms. This will serve as the main part of the mane. Braid six strings of yarn together to create a headband. Be sure it is long enough to tie around your head and tie off at each end. Start from the middle of the cord and attach the pom-poms by tying them to the braided headband. Add a nose and whiskers with the eyeliner, and you’re done.

1980s Outfit: The 1980s were a decade known for their fashion—good and bad. Grab some leg warmers, bright-colored accessories, blocky shapes on clothing, velvet, lace, and some teased big hair, and you’ll be able to create a Halloween costume straight from the ‘80s.

Bubble Bath: This outfit is so simple, you can make it on October 31st. Wear a white shirt and pants or leggings underneath balloons. Blow up clear, white, and pink balloons and safety pin the end of the balloon that’s been tied all over your clothing. Then, safety pin balloons to a white headband for your headpiece. Lastly, glue a rubber duck to one of the balloons for an added effect. You can also include sponges, loofahs, and other bubble bath accessories to your outfit.

Halloween costumes don’t need to be expensive. Start with your outfit and make a list of the materials you’ll need. Think about what you have and what you need to buy. Need some more ideas? A quick Google or Pinterest search will open up a door of Halloween costume possibilities.

xoxo,

Megan

Article written for Forsyth Family Magazine. 

What’s in the Jar?

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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 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

Article originally published in the May issue of Forsyth Family 

The Benefits of Coloring

 

 

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In an interview, Prince William once said one of Princess Kate’s hobbies was coloring in coloring books. You might be thinking, “Isn’t coloring just for kids?” Actually, no, this popular new hobby has great benefits for adults that many, even including the Duchess of Cambridge, have discovered.

The first successful adult coloring books were published in 2012 and 2013. Since then, art therapists and researchers have explored the many advantages of coloring. It is not considered a form of art therapy because art therapy implies a relationship between a client and therapist, while coloring is often an individual task. However, the benefits are very similar. This new trend is therapeutic with social, emotional, and mental health advantages. Also, it helps a person’s brain meditate by turning off negative thoughts and thinking about a specific task. It puts you in a relaxing mindset, because the result is often predictable, decreasing the amount of risk and failure. These aren’t the only benefits coloring has for adults. Take a look below to see how this latest trend helps improve a person’s mind.

Life for an adult is hard. You are balancing work, family, bills, and more. All of this can be stressful and cause anxiety. One benefit of coloring is it helps lower your stress and anxiety by taking your mind off your challenges and helping you focus on your present task of simply filling in the lines. It puts everything else on hold because the act of coloring is not a stressful act. Little effort is involved with having a colored pencil or crayon in your hand. Negative thoughts are being replaced with positivity. Also, to easing stress, coloring improves your focus and concentration. This hobby allows you to be engaged in creating a beautiful picture. Afterward, you can apply your improved skills to other tasks.

Along with an improved focus and concentration, different areas of your brain are also strengthened. When coloring, you are focusing on the paper, colors, and design, using your sense of sight and fine motor skills. These two areas are located in different hemispheres, which cause your brain to communicate and make connections which strengthen brain activity. Because of this ability, research has found coloring helps delay, and possibly prevent, dementia in older adults.

Coloring gives you a break from technology. When you are unplugged from your devices, you are directing your thoughts on creating an image instead of consuming news, videos, etc. from an electronic device. There is also a social advantage to the hobby. With its increasing popularity, more people are having coloring parties. During these events, people will color images and engage in conversation with their friends. This atmosphere helps people feel as if they are part of a larger project. While everyone is coloring individually, everyone is also working on the same task.

Sometimes it can be hard for adults to express themselves. Coloring provides an outlet to express yourself through art. You are creating a picture that hasn’t been created before, and you are doing so in your own way. No two pictures will ever be the same. The design you choose reflects your personality. Now, it is up to you to choose the colors to further express thoughts and personality. Different colors have different reactions to your mood. Blues, greens, and purples help produce a sense of calmness, while yellow creates a positive feeling.

Lastly, coloring gives you beautiful home décor. If you would like, display the artwork you create for others to see. Frame your pieces and place them on walls or tables.

Interested in joining this latest trend? Pick out a coloring book that is exciting and interesting for you. There are multiple options available, such as coloring books for scenery, fashion, puzzles, and more. The benefits of coloring for adults are endless. Plus, it makes you feel like a kid again. Who doesn’t want to feel that way?

xoxo,

Megan

Article published in Forsyth Magazines 

 

 

Kids’ Kraft Korner

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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

 

4 Beauty Products I Can’t Live Without

It is very rare for me to find a beauty product that I love and will use for a long time. My skin is fickle; it is oily one day and dry the next (thanks to my eczema). So, when I find a product with proven success, I love to share my enthusiasm and results! Here are my top 4 beauty products I can’t live without.

  1. Bio-Oil: This skincare product is great for scars, stretch marks, uneven skin tone, aging and dehydrated skin. It’s ingredients moisturizes and nourishes skin, leaving it soft and glowing.
  2. Target Up & Up Eczema Moisturizing Cream: I have eczema. Some days it is fine, while other days I feel like I want to scratch my skin off. For really bad flare ups, I use a prescription cream, but for everyday use my go-to is Target’s Up & Up Eczema Moisturizing Cream. It was just as great (if not better) than the Aveno type and has oatmeal in the ingredients.
  3. Biore Baking Soda Pore Cleanser: I have used baking soda and water to exfoliate my skin before. Love the results, but didn’t love the mess it made. So, when Biore came out with a baking soda cleanser, I knew I had to try it. Oh my goodness, I can’t tell you how much I love this product. It is great for washes and a great make-up remover. From using it, my face is shiner and healthier with little to no pores and blackheads.
  4. Vaseline Lip Therapy: I seem to also keep chapped lips, but with Vaseline Lip Therapy, my lips are smooth and hydrated. Plus, I use the Rosy Lips tin, which gives a slight rosy color to my lips. Perfect for the times you don’t want to use lipstick, but still want a little color.

 

 

My Fall Bucket List

My favorite time of the year is upon us – Fall! I love all the decorations, sights, and smells season. In addition, I have my annual traditions I must do, including the ones below:

  1. Take a drive/walk to see the fall foliage: We live within driving distance of the Blue Ridge Parkway and can make an easy day trip to see the colors of the season. Another way to take in the views is simply driving around your hometown and surrounding areas. Or walk through downtown, parks, or Old Salem to experience the beautiful scenery.
  2. Attend a fall festival /fair: Once I go to the Dixie Classic Fair, I know fall has arrived. Other events include the Autumn Leaves Festival in Mount Airy, Harvest Day at Old Salem, and the Apple Festival at Historic Bethabara Park.
  3. Bake: Apple pie, pumpkin pie, homemade apple sauce, caramel apples, the list goes on and on for all the delicious fall foods. One of my favorite things is baking during the season. Don’t know what to bake? A simple google search or Pinterest will bring up hundreds of recipes. Just a hint: pumpkin chocolate chip cookies are delicious.
  4. Go to a pumpkin patch: There is nothing better than finding the perfect pumpkin to carve. Hawks Pumpkin Patch on Clemmonsville Road and The Farm at The Children’s Home are favorite local pumpkin patches.
  5. Carve a pumpkin: Do you like a friendly face or a scary face? It’s up to you, because after you get that perfect pumpkin from the pumpkin patch, you can take it home and carve it. Growing up, we always carved a pumpkin and also painted one. Let your kids have fun with creating their favorite book or cartoon character by using paint, markers, yarn, and other craft supplies on the pumpkin.
  6. Decorate for the holidays: Many stores throughout the area have been selling fall and holiday decorations since the middle of summer. Seeing these items always gets me into the decorating mood. Take one Saturday and turn your house into a fall oasis. Some of the decorations can even become DIY projects, such as this fun scarecrow. All you need is: one shirt, one pair of pants, a hat, old pillowcase for face, old newspapers, safety pins, narrow rope, small amounts of straw, raffia, or dried grass, and permanent markers or felt scraps for the facial features. Button and zip the shirt and pants and tie the ends of the arms and legs with the rope. Stuff full with newspaper and use safety pins to attach the two pieces of clothing at the waist. In the pillowcase, add stuffing and form into the size and shape of a face. Use the permanent marker or felt to create facial features. Tuck into the neck of the shirt and secure with safety pins. Add the hat. To finish, stuff some straw or raffia into the openings (such as arms and legs) and glue if necessary.
  1. Watch Halloween movies: Freeform’s (formerly ABC Family) 13 days of Halloween is the perfect place to start your Halloween movie marathon. To make the marathon complete, watch older fall movies, such as all-time favorite Hocus Pocus. You can’t get through the season without watching It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown at least once.
  2. Watch football: No matter who your favorite team is, it’s the time to root for them. High school, college, pro – everyone has a favorite. Let’s just hope the Carolina Panthers have as good of a season as they did last year! Super Bowl LI material? I think so! In addition, spend some time outside with your family and friends playing your own game of football.
  3. Jump in a pile of leaves…and then rake them up: Fall is one of the seasons to be a kid again and with being a kid comes the chance to jump in a pile of leaves. However, the adult responsibility sets in when you have to rake them up afterwards.
  4. Go trick or treating: Who doesn’t love putting on a costume and being someone else for a while? Halloween gives you a chance to step outside of the box and do just that. Plus, if you go trick or treating, you’ll get candy. Another option would be dressing up and handing out goodies to children that stop by your house on All Hallow’s eve.
  5. Have a bonfire: What better way to celebrate fall than with a cup of apple cider and s’mores in front of a bonfire? Bundle up with your hats and scarves. Gather your family and friends as you toast to the new season.

xoxo,

Megan

DIY Travel Keepsake 

I absolutely LOVE this travel tip! Take it a step further and mail yourself the postcards home. That way, they will be waiting for you when you get back.

If you are looking for a budget friendly way, forget the mailing and just pack in your suitcase.

Years after the trip, you’ll be happy you kept all the postcards and the memories.

Happy Travels!

xoxo,

Megan