Day 1: An Update

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Back in October, I gave a life update on the new journey I was taking. Now, several months later, I decided it was time to provide you with another update.

Life hasn’t truly gotten easier. In January, we had another health scare with my grandmother. At 84-years-old, she got the flu and pneumonia. Hearing the doctor say “she might become one that succumbs to the flu” scares you to death. The two weeks she was in the hospital was full of emotions and prayer. Thankfully, I’m happy to report she is now 85-years-old and went into her first store since December this past Tuesday. Let me tell you, that woman is as tough as nails.

As for my job with the magazine, due to recent budget cuts, my position was eliminated. Yes, I am sad, because this means a decrease in income each month, but I’m also comforted. I’m comforted in thinking that I’m on the edge of finding my passion and what I am meant to do. You may know that I’ve been in graduate school, getting my teaching degree. This past spring, I have been student-teaching and loved every minute of it. Those students were so inspiring and made me want to come to work every day. Along with teaching, I feel as if I will spend this summer and the months afterward doing more of what I love. God only knows where life will take me and I’m confident in His plans.

During October to December, I healed from the stress of my grandmother’s stroke and grief of my dog’s, Gidget, death. Now, I am using these summer months to heal and find myself. In these past few months, I have been grieving; grieving for things in life I may never have and grieving for things I’ll never have again. My depression and anxiety have taken hits in my daily life. Now, I’m going to heal.

Some say writing things publicly makes your commitment to them stronger. Whether that is true or not, I’m going to share the ways I want to heal. I want to write, I want to design, I want to read, I want to take pictures, I want to paint, and I want to go for walks. Darn it; I want to sit and watch a whole movie without doing anything else. To be honest, I can’t remember when the last time was I did some of the things listed above. Life has been busy, and I’m grateful for being given the opportunity to manage work, student teaching, and school. However, I’m ready to sit, listen, and heal.

“I’m choosing happiness over suffering. I know I am. I’m making space for the unknown future to fill up my life with yet-to-come surprises.” -Elizabeth Gilbert, author of “Eat, Pray, Love.” 

xoxo,

Megan

Link to “Day 1” post: https://metaylor.com/2017/10/06/day-1/ 

 

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My 5 Purse Must-Haves

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Earlier this week, I looked inside my purse and noticed a few things that shouldn’t be there. Let’s just say my purse was more of a tote bag. Inside, I had a CVS bag full of items, contacts, medicine, a water bottle, granola bars, a PRAXIS review book, and a notebook. Normally, I don’t carry this much stuff and half of the time I don’t carry a purse at all. However, this moment got me thinking about what I had to have with me when I go out. So, here is my list of my 5 purse must-haves.

  1. Chapstick – usually, the chapstick has a tint of color to it and also serves as lipstick. My lips always stay dry, so having chapstick is a must!
  2. Granola bar – when I get hungry, I can get hangry and develop a headache. This quick snack helps keep my hunger under control between meals.
  3. A pen and notebook – you never know when you’ll have an idea that just needs to be written down.
  4. Coupon organizer – I hate shopping without a coupon. To avoid this, I always make sure I have my coupon organizer in my purse.
  5. Mints or gum – This one might be self-explanatory… 🙂

What’s in your purse?

xoxo,

Megan

North Carolina BBQ 101

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Some people like Eastern, while other people prefer Lexington. Wondering what I’m talking about? North Carolina barbecue. This tasty food has had a longstanding history in the Tarheel State that dates back to colonial times.

According to historians, barbecue, in general, was first introduced in the Caribbean. During the 1500s, there would be island barbecues with meat, such as lizard and alligator. Shortly after, the Spanish brought hogs to the Caribbean and southeastern United States. This is when pork became the favorite meat for barbecue. As for North Carolina, influences came from the original settlers and African-Americans on plantations. Today, many people associate barbecue with their favorite style and you can’t have barbecue without a sauce.

Main Types of Barbecue:

It is said that Eastern-style barbecue (vinegar-based) was the first style in the state. It wasn’t until Heinz created ketchup and introduced it to the public at the Centennial International Exhibition of 1876, that we began seeing a difference in barbecue styles. During World War I, Lexington-style barbecue was created in Lexington, North Carolina.

Eastern-stylebarbecue is a vinegar and pepper based style with no tomato. All parts of the hog are used. There is a common saying associated with this style, which is that “every part of the hog except the squeal is used.” Originally, lemon juice was used in the base. However, since this juice was hard to find in many southern states when barbecue started gaining popularity, vinegar was substituted. Eastern-style barbecue has more of a spicy-tartness and focuses more on the actual meat than the sauce. As for Eastern-style slaw, it matches the tangy taste of the barbecue and includes vinegar. This style is mostly famous along the east coast of North Carolina.

Lexington-style barbecue (my favorite) is all about the tomato. This style is commonly referred to as Piedmont or Western style. It uses a red sauce, made up of ketchup, vinegar, and pepper and has a smokier taste compared to Eastern. The slaw mimics the tomato sauce, as well, and is called “red slaw” or “barbecue slaw.” Lexington-style barbecue is more well-known in the Piedmont and western parts of the state.

Other Styles: 

Most people are only familiar with North Carolina barbecue as being Eastern or Lexington. However, another, lesser known style involves pork ribs. The Baby Back Ribs, also called top loin ribs, are cut from the center section of the loin and are a favorite among many. Another type of pork ribs is spareribs. This style is a larger and longer rib and more flavorful than Baby Back Ribs. This style of barbecue can be found at many festivals and competitions throughout the year, including the Twin City RibFest.

Lastly, throughout North Carolina, pork meat isn’t the only type of barbecue a person can find. Chicken and beef are also favorites to serve up. In addition, there are influences from Texas, St. Louis, Kansas City, and Jamaica.

Cooking Barbecue  

The most traditional way to cook barbecue is pit style. According to historians, this technique has been used for thousands of years. A pit barbecue is an enclosed, above-ground “pit” that cooks the meat slowly over different types of wood. Some popular varieties of wood are hickory, mesquite, and oak. The smells and smoke of the wood drift up into the meat and flavor it. Also, pit style is known for producing very tender meat. An example of pit style cooking is smoking barbecue or using a smoker. There are many various ways on how to use this style, as well as types of equipment needed. The most common types are cold smoking and hot smoking. Cold smoking is used to flavor the meat and hot smoking can be defined as the meat’s cooking time.

Barbecuing versus Grilling 

Yes, there is a different between barbecuing and grilling. Barbecuing can be defined as a slower process that uses lower heat than grilling, and the food is cooked by the heat of the smoke. In grilling, dry heat is used and is applied to the food being cooked.

Barbecue has been a longstanding staple in North Carolina. Most people, from a young age, find their favorite style and it stays with them for the rest of their lives. Summer has just begun and what better time is there to have a barbecue with your family and friends?

xoxo,

Megan

Originally written for Forsyth Woman Magazine, June 2018. 

Budget Bzzz: Sweet Summertime Savings

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As May is about to come to a close, many people start thinking about summertime. However, for some people, summertime is closely associated with the dollar sign and all the expenses the season involves. There are vacations, camps, air conditioning, and more that makes summer one of the more expensive seasons. According to the managing vice president of Capital One, Shane Holdaway, March is the most expensive month of the year. (Yes, I realize it is May and we are talking about March – but stay with me here.) In an article on Oprah.com, Holdaway states this is because March is an in-between month, between seasons, where people are getting cabin fever and thinking about their summer plans. And with the summer plans, people are spending money. So, now back to May, if you were one of these people, how do you recoup some of that money to put more back into your wallet this summer? Continue reading below to find out.

  • Assess the damage. It can be hard to admit you went on a spending spree and see how much you spent. However, it is necessary. Think about the expenses you have already made or are going to make during the summer and see where you can pare down. Maybe you purchased a suite at the beach and you really don’t need it. See if a friend or family member might be willing to pay you and use the suite for their vacation. Another option is to try to find another family that will go on a beach trip with you and would be willing to split the costs.
  • Get back on track with your budget. Unfortunately, there are just some expenses you won’t be able to recover. Factor them into your budget and rebuild from there. Sometimes it is best to start from scratch with your budgeting. First, write down all of your fixed expenses, such as car payments, utilities, insurance, etc., and then see how much of your income is left over. Stick to your new budget until you have regained what was lost.
  • Create a plan for paying off your debt and big expenses. Let’s face it – a vacation can be expensive. If you under-budgeted and over-spent, create a well-organized repayment plan. Think about the last trip, refigure your budget and see exactly how much money you have to spend. Paying off your debt or big expenses should become a fixed expense. Go on a spending diet and don’t spend money on anything unnecessary until that purchase is paid off.
  • Always, always, always track your spending. Whether you made the purchase months in advance or that day, write it down in whatever method you prefer. This will help prevent a downfall if you accidently forget an expense that was made in March, but the money wasn’t taken out until May.
  • Set a deadline to get back on track. Summer doesn’t have to be a time to lose money. It can be a time to gain it. For example, create a deadline and commit to it for reorganizing your spending and paying off summer expenses. This can be at the beginning, middle, or end of summer. Whatever works for you.
  • See what went wrong. To be honest, something went wrong somewhere in your budgeting method for some expenses to slip through. Determine how that happened. Maybe it was an impulse expense. There is nothing wrong making purchases ahead of time; just make sure you have budgeted them in and keep track of them.

Summertime can be a time to make memories with your loved ones. But, it can also be a time to save money and get back on track after the summer expenses have been made.

xoxo,

Megan

The Meaning of Memorial Day

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Many people are spending today relaxing by the pool, eating BBQ, or soaking in some sun at the beach. However, there is one thing not to be missed: the real reason for the holiday.

Today isn’t about the fireworks, opening of pools, or ringing in the summer season. It’s about remembering the military members who gave the ultimate price for our country’s freedom.

Let us not forget to remember our fallen soldiers today and everyday. Add a new tradition to your backyard BBQ this year with a few of the ideas below.

1: Raise your American flag outside your home.

2: Visit a veteran’s home and capture their story.

3: Share a picture of a beloved fallen military member on social media.

4: Write thank you notes to our troops serving throughout the world.

5: Watch or listen to the National Memorial Day Concert.

xoxo,

Megan

My Mental Health Self-Care

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May is Mental Health Awareness month. As someone who struggles with anxiety and depression on a daily basis, I am a little ashamed I haven’t written about the topic this month until now.

For the past week or two, my anxiety and depression have run rampant. I have felt like crying for most of the days, ate very little, and wanted to spend the majority of my time sleeping. There have been some recent events in my life that brought on this heavy onset. However, good or bad, I still have to manage my mental health every day, and I have a few ways to help me.

  • Dancing to fun music. My current jam? Whitney Houston’s “I Wanna Dance with Somebody.”
  • Yoga at night to calm music.
  • Taking a bath and just relaxing.
  • Deep breathing.
  • Taking a long drive or walk to clear my mind.
  • Doing an at-home spa treatment, such as a face mask, pedicure, etc.
  • Writing long and honestly.
  • Reading curled up with multiple blankets on top of me.
  • Cleaning and organizing.

Honestly, May has been a month for my mental health. I’ve had my ups and downs, smiles and tears. But, there is one thing for sure, the tips above help me maintain it, and I hope by sharing them, they help you too!

Don’t ever be ashamed to admit you have depression, anxiety, bipolar disease, or another mental illness. There is no guilt in asking for help when you need it. After all, we are in this together!

xoxo,

Megan

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 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

What’s in a Carolina Name? A Look Inside the Names of Famous North Carolina Cities

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We know their names by heart and everything about them, but we don’t truly know their meanings. Wonder what I’m talking about? The names of famous North Carolina cities. Have you ever thought about why Raleigh is named Raleigh? Or why Wilmington is called just that? Well, sit back and read below for the history behind the names of famous North Carolina cities.

Winston-Salem: 

Let’s start with our hometown – Winston-Salem. Originally, the Camel City was two towns: Winston and Salem. The name Winston comes from local Revolutionary War hero, Joseph Winston. Until 1851, the area was known as “the county town” for being the county seat for the town of Salem in the newly formed Forsyth County. As for Salem, it bears its name from “Shalom” meaning peace. It was chosen by Count Zinzendorf, a patron of the Moravian town.

Raleigh: 

North Carolina’s capital city, Raleigh, is the second largest city in the state. The City of Oaks is named after Sir Walter Raleigh, who established the lost Roanoke Colony in current Dare County. In 1584, Queen Elizabeth gave Raleigh a royal charter to explore and colonize land in the New World. His first attempt at establishing a settlement was known as the Roanoke Colony (the Lost Colony). Three years later, he returned and tried again to reestablish a settlement on Roanoke Island.

Greensboro: 

Formerly spelled Greensborough, Greensboro is the 3rdlargest city in the state. The city gained its current name after the Revolutionary War. Major General Nathanael Greene was an American commander at the Battle of Guilford Court House on March 15, 1781. The battle was a British win, but Greene’s troops inflicted many casualties on British General Cornwallis’ army. Before 1781, the residents of Greensboro were Quakers from Pennsylvania. In 1750, they arrived in Capefair, the area now known as Greensboro. Quickly, more people came to the settlement, making it the most important Quaker community in North Carolina during that time.

Wilmington:

An important port city for various periods in history, Wilmington is currently known for being the Hollywood of the East Coast, its one-mile-long Riverwalk, and the coastal arena it provides people. The city was settled by English colonists and named after Spencer Compton, the 1stEarl of Wilmington. Compton was a British Whig statesman and is considered to be Britain’s second Prime Minister from 1742 to 1743. As for the area, the settlement was built in September 1732 on land owned by John Watson, and was founded by the first royal governor, George Burrington. Before deciding on the name Wilmington, the city was called “New Carthage,” “New Liverpool,” and then “New Town (Newton).” In 1739 – 1740, the town was incorporated under the new name, “Wilmington.”

Boone: 

A quick drive up US-421 North will take you to the beautiful city of Boone, North Carolina. The area is famous for the Blue Ridge Mountains, skiing and snow sports, bluegrass music, and of course, Appalachian State University. One can easily guess Boone got its name from American pioneer and explorer, Daniel Boone. According to historians, Boone spent time camping at locations within the present city limits. His nephews, Jesse and Jonathan, were members of Three Forks Baptist Church, the town’s first church, which still stands today.

Charlotte: 

The biggest city in North Carolina, the Queen City, and home of the Carolina Panthers, everyone knows the city of Charlotte, but few know the name’s meaning. It was first settled by Scotch-Irish and Scotch-Irish Presbyterians and German immigrants before the Revolutionary War. Charlotte is named in honor of German princess Charlotte of Mecklenburg-Strelitz. In 1761, she became the Queen Consort of Great Britain and Ireland. Seven years later, the town of Charlotte was incorporated. Along with its nickname, the Queen City, the city was often called The Hornet’s Nest, due to British General Cornwallis’ troops occupying the city during the Revolutionary War. Eventually, residents were driven out and Cornwallis wrote that Charlotte was “a hornet’s nest of rebellion.”

Next time you’re in one of these cities, you can show off your skills by testing your travel companions on their knowledge of the meaning of the city’s name.

xoxo,

Megan

Ribbons with Reasons: The Causes behind the Colors

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We all have seen them at one time or another: awareness ribbons of different colors, representing various causes. According to the website Disabled World Towards Tomorrow, awareness ribbons are “short pieces of colored ribbon folded into a loop and are used in the United States, Canada, Australia, UK, and other parts of the world.” These ribbons are used to show your support for a certain cause or issue. A single color can have multiple meanings, and some can have patterns. Also, a cause or issue can have more than one color. There is no exact number as to how many awareness ribbons exist because they are universally-used. Some of the well-known colors include pink for breast cancer, red for AIDS, and purple for Alzheimer’s. But, do you know what the lesser known colors support? Let’s take a look below.

  • Black is used as a sign of mourning for those lost in the 9/11 attacks and the Virginia Tech massacre. Also, black is associated with melanoma awareness, narcolepsy, and sleep disorders.
  • Blue awareness ribbons have many meanings, including addiction recovery awareness, bullying, colon cancer, foster care awareness, Huntington’s disease, and the West Nile virus. Light blue ribbons stand for Addison’s disease, prostate cancer, and lymphedema. As for navy blue, this color brings awareness to Crohn’s disease, rectal cancer, colon cancer, and colorectal cancers. Robin’s egg blue represents Pierre Robin syndrome, and pale blue is achalasia awareness. Lastly, royal blue stands for child abuse awareness. A mixed blue and gray ribbon with a red drop means awareness for type 1 diabetes.
  • Brown is an alternate color for colon cancer and colorectal cancers, but it also stands for anti-tobacco.
  • Burgundy has a few different meanings, including adults with disabilities, meningitis, sickle cell anemia, and headaches and migraines.
  • Brain tumors and brain cancer are supported through gray ribbons. Also, diabetes and asthma awareness use this color.
  • There are a few shades of green that symbolize various causes. Your regular shade of green gives awareness to bipolar disorder, childhood depression, cerebral palsy, depression, mental health, mental illness, and kidney cancer. A lime green ribbon is used for Lyme disease, muscular dystrophy, and lymphoma. Addiction recovery, bone tumor awareness, and renal cell carcinoma are supported by turquoise ribbons. Another commonly known awareness ribbon is the color teal. This shade represents anti-bullying, anxiety disorder, cervical cancer, ovarian cancer, and other gynecological cancers, polycystic ovarian syndrome, food allergies, post-traumatic stress disorder, and sexual assault and sexual violence awareness.
  • Yellow awareness ribbons mean bladder cancer, endometriosis awareness, liver cancer and liver disease, missing children, and suicide prevention.
  • Gold awareness ribbons are another popular color and many people know their meanings. Childhood cancers and neuroblastoma and osteosarcoma are represented by this color.
  • Orange brings awareness to attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), COPD, leukemia, lupus, multiple sclerosis, and kidney cancer.
  • Pearl, white and clear ribbons stand for dating violence awareness, lung cancer and lung disease, emphysema, bone cancer, postpartum depression, and scoliosis.
  • Pink is very well-known for breast cancer, but it also gives awareness to birth parents and nursing mothers.
  • Many people associate purple awareness ribbons with Alzheimer’s Disease, but that isn’t the only thing they’re known for. This color is used for ADD, ADHD, cystic fibrosis, domestic violence, epilepsy, March of Dimes, pancreatic cancer, and thyroid cancer. Shades of purple, such as lavender and periwinkle draw awareness to all types of cancer awareness, gynecological cancers, eating disorders, and gastric cancer.
  • Red awareness ribbons support AIDS and HIV, congenital heart defects and disease, heart disease, stroke awareness, and tuberculosis.
  • Last, but not least, brain disorders, dyslexia, Parkinson’s disease, and schizophrenia are given awareness through the color silver.

Symbols and patterns are also used in various awareness ribbons. These symbols include the autism infinity symbol, blue star, blue diabetes circle, and butterflies for Turner syndrome and Beckwith-Wiedemann Syndrome.

If you are like me, you have always wondered what a certain color of ribbon meant. Well, now you know and can easily see what causes have special meanings to different people.

Thank YOU! Thank YOU!

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Thank you so much to ALL of my readers! Because of you, I have reached one of my goals and have 101 followers! Thank you for giving me the opportunity to write from my heart on topics that are important to me. Thank you for reading my posts!

I look forward to what the future holds for this blog. All my readers hold a special place in my life! Now, onto writing new posts!

xoxo,

Megan