DIY Watermelon Volcano for Kids of All Ages

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Just because it is summer, doesn’t mean you can’t add a little learning to your fun experiences! This simple DIY Watermelon Volcano experiment is the perfect activity to engage your kids. Plus, it is hands-on with easy cleanup. What is there not to love?

Materials: 

  • Small watermelon
  • Baking soda
  • White vinegar
  • Dish soap

Directions: 

  1. Cut a small hole at the top of your clean watermelon. The hole should be at least five inches in diameter. Remove the top of the watermelon and place aside.
  2. Scoop out the fruit in your hole using a melon baller or spoon. Make sure you scoop out enough of the fruit to hold the eruption mixture without spilling out; a few inches deep is fine.
  3. Next, pour about half a cup of baking soda into the watermelon. You may need more, depending on your hole depth and size of the watermelon. Add a couple squirts of dish soap. Mix ingredients together.
  4. Lastly, pour the white vinegar straight into the hole and let the eruption begin *Quick tip: Complete the activity outside, if possible. Place a trap, towel, pan, etc. underneath the watermelon to catch the spillage. Another option is to let it explode in the grass.

Enjoy!

xoxo,

Megan

 

 

 

 

 

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Fourth of July Party Must-Haves

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The Fourth of July is commonly associated with fireworks, barbeques, and parties. Planning events, especially for holidays, is one of my favorite things to do. If you are hosting a patriotic get-together that is going to be all red, white, and blue for July 4th, I’ve got some ideas you don’t want to miss.

Decorations: 

When one thinks of decorations for a Fourth of July party, one probably automatically thinks of anything red, white, and blue. For tables, use a tablecloth that is either red-and-white checkered, blue-and-white checkered or a plain color. Take it a step farther and use bandannas. All you need to do is sew together red, white, and blue bandannas, enough to cover your table or to make a table runner.

As for centerpieces, there are many options you can create. One example is using flowers in jars. Choose white flowers, such as daisies, and place in clear jars, filled with water. Using food color, tint the water in one container with red dye and another with blue. This simple arrangement is just another way to include some patriotic zest to your party decorations.

Lastly, banners, bunting, and streamers are perfect additions for tables, ceilings, fences, and more. Colorful fabric and paper can be used for the designs, and don’t forget about the flag—a must-have at any Fourth of July extravaganza!

Food: 

A party isn’t a party without tasty food! Offer your guests a wide variety of choices, from sweet and salty to healthy. Watermelon, bananas, strawberries, and blueberries are your go-to fruits. One of the cutest ways to serve them is by crafting Fourth of July Fireworks Kabobs. First, take a star-shaped cookie cutter and cut out pieces of watermelon into stars. Then, use a skewer and place the watermelon star on one end and follow up with blueberries. Another fun idea is utilizing fruit slices and making an American flag on a plate or serving tray.

A common staple at Fourth of July parties is hot dogs and hamburgers. Staying with the fireworks theme for food, treat your family and friends to Firecracker Dogs. All you need to do is wrap uncooked crescent dough around a hot dog and cook until done. Then, place onto a skewer with a star-shaped piece of cheese on top.

Desserts and sweets are always a must, and s’ mores are the perfect touch. Want something cool to eat in the hot weather? Take ice cream sandwiches and roll the edges in red, white, and blue sprinkles. The key with food is for all dishes to be simple and easy to eat, whether you’re standing up or sitting down. You don’t need to have a full five-course meal, but you do need to make sure you have all parts of a meal available for guests. Remember always to include something fruity, something veggie, something sweet, something salty, and something hearty, such as meat, and refreshments.

Music: 

There are many patriotic jams to play during the festivities. A few favorites to include in your playlist are:

  • “Born in the USA” by Bruce Springsteen
  • “Party in the USA” by Miley Cyrus
  • “God Bless the USA” by Lee Greenwood
  • “Sweet Home Alabama” by Lynard Skynard
  • “It’s America” by Rodney Atkins
  • “Only in America” by Brooks and Dunn

Games:

Classic games, such as cornhole and ladder golf, are always a hit at Fourth of July parties. However, there are ways to bring the holiday spirit into other games, as well. Lead your guests on a patriotic scavenger hunt. Some items to look for: a picnic basket, an American flag, something red, stars, streamers, and sparklers.

Since it is summer, include outdoor games. One suggestion would be to paint a twister board on the grass. Use the spinner from the board game and have fun. Also, host challenges, such as a watermelon or pie-eating contest. Attendees will love getting in on the party action. Plus, great memories will certainly be made!

Party Favors:

Give your guests something to take home and remember the event. Many people like to hand out sparklers, but this can be a little tricky with multiple ages at the party. A creative idea is deconstructed s’ mores in bags with a tag, commemorating the day. In addition, you could fill favor bags with candy that is red, white, and blue. Some options are M&Ms, lollipops, and Hershey’s kisses.

The Fourth of July is a day full of fun. Enjoy the holiday by having a party for your family and friends. Don’t know where to start?  Use the tips above. These ideas will help you remember the real reason for the day.

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

 

 

 

 

Melt In Your Mouth Lemon Brownies

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This summer, my goal is to eat healthier and lose a little bit of weight. However, that is not stopping me from already deciding my cheat meals and desserts. On my list is the recipe below –  Lemon Brownies.

Lemon Brownies: 

Ingredients for the brownie mixture: 

  • 3/4 cup butter, melted
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 4 Tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1 Tablespoon lemon zest
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

Ingredients for the glaze: 

  • 3/4 cup powdered sugar
  • 1 1/2 Tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1 Tablespoon lemon zest

Directions for brownie mixture: 

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line an 8 x 8 square pan with tin foil, then grease.
  2. In a mixing bowl, stir together the butter and sugar until combined. Add in the eggs, lemon juice, and lemon zest and stir.
  3. Next, stir in the flour and salt until everything is mixed together.
  4. Pour the batter into the pan and bake for 28 to 30 minutes.
  5. Remove from oven and let cool.

Directions for glaze: 

  1. In a mixing bowl, combine the powdered sugar, lemon juice, and lemon zest. Stir until smooth.
  2. Pour the glaze over the cooled brownies and let set.
  3. Garnish with lemon zest, if desired.

Enjoy!

 

xoxo,

Megan

P.S. Would you like for me to blog about my health journey this summer? Vote here! 

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

Tips and Tricks for a Fabulous Summertime Party

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While the kids are out of school, and the days of summer are long, there is no better time to have a summer party with family and friends. Turn your backyard or house into a fun getaway, and party into the wee hours of the morning with these party ideas.

There are several themes for summer parties. Different ideas include beach/under the sea, patriotic, luau, ice cream social, backyard movie night, picnic, camping, fiesta, low country boil and, of course, the classic pool party. When it comes to choosing your theme, think about what type of party you want to have and where your guests will have the most fun. Some questions to consider — would you enjoy a fiesta or a low country boil? If camping isn’t your thing, don’t have a camping themed event. Remember, you are going to be spending time planning and hosting this party, so pick a theme you are excited about and enjoy. Another thing to keep in mind is the type of guests you are inviting. Are they all adults, or are both adults and kids invited?

After choosing the theme of the party, start thinking about the invitation, decorations, food, games/crafts, and party favors. A good place to go for ideas is to look online, including your trustworthy friend, Pinterest. Some of my favorite party ideas are listed below and can be used for multiple summer party themes.

Decorations:

Decorations always set the mood of the party. Go all out, and turn your party area into the beach, under the sea, a backyard BBQ, etc. For some general summer ideas, use sand buckets for snacks and toy shovels for scooping. If your event is outside, keep the sun and bugs under control by filling a bucket with sunscreen and bug spray for guests to use. Get creative and decorate the bucket, and add a cute sign. Another party must is a photo booth. Add props related to your theme and a backdrop. Guests will love taking home a memento from the day. For nighttime parties, place glow sticks in a clear bowl, filled with ice and bottled/canned drinks. This decoration makes a festive and colorful addition to your party tables.

Food:

Along with salty, sweet and fruity snacks, be original with your food options. For drinks, serve the traditional summer beverages — lemonade, sweet tea, soft drinks and water, but add in Sunny D. This bright orange thirst quencher will be loved by kids of all ages and bring in a little bit more of the summer oasis. Want something different than the common party drink? Try this Pina Colada Sangria recipe:

Ingredients:

  • 3 cups Moscato
  • 20 oz can of pineapple juice (crushed pineapple may be added, as well)
  • 1 ½ cups coconut rum

Directions:

  • Mix all ingredients together in a pitcher. Refrigerate overnight, and serve chilled.

As always, summer parties call for s’ mores. Turn this classic backyard treat into a party favorite with an s’mores bar. Set up the table with marshmallows, Hershey’s chocolate bars, and graham crackers. Add in more flavors, and include bananas, strawberries, Reese’s peanut butter cups, Ritz crackers, Hershey’s cookies, and cream candy bars and York peppermint patties.

Games and Crafts:

One of my favorite ideas for a party activity is creating a movie theater right in your own backyard. This activity works for all different types of parties because you can show a movie that matches your theme. First, you need a screen. Some options include showing the movie on the side of a house, tool shed or other flat surface or hanging a flat bed sheet between two objects. Next, you need a projector, laptop and sound system. Computer speakers, stereo amplifiers and a boom box are great options to get the sound louder.

If you are looking for guests to get in touch with their creative sides, add a craft or DIY project to the party. One option is decorating flip-flops which can be purchased at the Dollar Store. Also, buy different colors of paint, Sharpies, stickers, buttons and more. Your visitors will enjoy getting to put their own spin on something they can take home.

Don’t forget about party favors. Make goodie bags with items related to your theme. Include snack-items, games or something unique and special to remember the event.

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

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

Throwback Thursday, Recipe Style!

Happy throwback Thursday to one of my favorite recipes: Key Lime Cheesecake with Strawberry Sauce!

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FW108-Recipes

Talk about a yummy recipe that is perfect for all year long!

Ingredients

  • 2 cups graham cracker crumbs
  • 1/4 cup white sugar
  • 1/2 cup butter, melted
  • 3 – 8oz. packages of cream cheese, softened
  • 1 1/4 cups sugar
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 – 8oz. container sour cream
  • 1 1/2 tsp grated lime rind (lime zest)
  • 1/2 cup Key Lime Juice (recommend Kermit’s Key Lime Shoppe juice; order online only)

Preparation

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Stir together first three ingredients and firmly press on the bottom and 1 inch up the sides of a greased 9-inch springform pan.
  3. Bake crust at 350 degrees for 8 minutes; cool completely. Reduce oven to 325 degrees.
  4. Beat cream cheese at medium speed with an electric mixer until fluffy; gradually add 1 1/4 cups of sugar, beating till blended. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Stir in sour cream, rind and juice. Pour batter into cooled crust.
  5. Place in 325 degrees oven and bake for 1 hour and 5 minutes; turn the oven off. Partially open the oven door; let stand in oven for 15 minutes. Remove from the oven and immediately run a knife around the edge of pan, releasing the sides.
  6. Cool completely in pan on a wire rack; cover and chill 8 hours. Garnish with strawberry slices, blueberries and lime rind.

Strawberry Sauce

Ingredients

  • 1 1/4 cups fresh strawberries
  • 1/4 cup white sugar
  • 1 1/2 tsp lime rind
  • 1 tsp lemon juice (or more to taste)
  1. Process all ingredients in a food processor until smooth, stopping to scrape down the sides.
  2. *Sauce should be a bit tangy, but not overwhelmingly so.
  3. Drizzle over the top slices of the cheesecake when serving.

Raspberry Sauce (alternate)

Ingredients

  • 1/2 jar seedless raspberry jam
  • 1/2 cup fresh raspberries, halved
  • 1 Tbsp lemon juice
  1. Cook all ingredients over medium heat, stirring constantly so the sauce cooks but doesn’t stick. Once the jam turns into a liquid, remove from heat and cool, then refrigerate. Drizzle over slices of cheesecake when served.

Enjoy!

xoxo,

Megan

Quick and Simple Fruit Dip

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This evening, I’m going to a summer party with some friends. Being from the south, I have learned the aged-old tradition of never arriving to a party empty-handed. Earlier today, I wiped up this quick and simple fruit dip and cut up some beautiful fruit to take. This recipe is a personal favorite and one I had to share!

Fruit Dip:

Ingredients: 

  • 8 oz. packaged cream cheese, softened to room temperature
  • 7 oz. jar marshmallow fluff
  • 2 Tablespoons frozen orange juice concentrate, thawed

Directions: 

  • Scoop the marshmallow fluff into a large bowl and microwave for 15 seconds.
  • Add in the softened cream cheese and orange juice concentrate. Whisk until very smooth.
  • Chill for a few hours or overnight.

The dip works great with strawberries, blueberries, and apples!

Enjoy!

xoxo,

Megan