Simply Carolina: The Hidden Gems of South Carolina

Travel the road less traveled, go off the beaten path…we all know the quotes that tell us to travel away from the busy places. You know what? Those quotes are true. Sometimes the best travel and memories are made within the “hidden gems.” As I spend a chilly, rainy day in North Carolina, I’m reminiscing about traveling to the unknown places in South Carolina.

Walahalla – A mountain city, full of history.

 

Chattooga River – Hiking, whitewater rafting, and waterfalls? What more could you want?

 

Abingdon Manor in Latta – A bed and breakfast inn, complete with a Greek Revival Style.

 

Cooper’s Country Store in Salters – Shop for smoked hams, shotguns, and everything in between before hitting the road again.

 

Bluffton – This little city is home to charm, cafes, and cute shops.

xoxo,

Megan

America’s National Treasures

We all know them by name, the classic national treasures that reflect the history of America. But, do you know the history behind these famous landmarks and sites? From the Liberty Bell to Mount Rushmore, I’ll take a look inside some of the most popular national treasures in America.

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The Liberty Bell – Known for its iconic crack, the Liberty Bell is located in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The bell used to be referred to as the State House Bell, because its old location was the tower of the Pennsylvania State House, now known as Independence Hall. The Liberty Bell was created for the bell tower in 1751 by the Whitechapel Foundry in London. Speaker of the Pennsylvania Assembly, Isaac Norris, headed up the bell’s creation. However, a new bell had to be made after the first bell from London cracked during the first ring test. Metalworkers John Pass and John Stow soon developed the bell in Philadelphia. The bell was rung to call lawmakers to their meetings and townspeople together for important news. It wasn’t until the 1830s that the Liberty Bell became a symbol of liberty.

When it comes to the Liberty Bell, there are two famous symbols located on it. First, the crack. There are different theories as to why the bell cracked, but many believe it occurred during the 1840s, after 90 years of use. However, the split you see in the bell today is actually a repair job. In 1846, Philadelphia decided to repair the crack in the bell for George Washington’s birthday. Metal workers used a technique called “stop drilling” to widen the crack to prevent further spreading and to restore the bell’s tone. Sadly, this repair led to another crack and the Liberty Bell has not been rung since.

The second symbol is the bell’s inscription—“Proclaim Liberty Throughout All the Land Unto All the Inhabitants thereof.” This verse comes from Leviticus 25:10 and was chosen by Norris to commemorate the 50th anniversary of William Penn’s 1701 Charter of Privileges. The Liberty Bell’s message was also used by abolitionists to end slavery.

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The Statue of Liberty – “Lady Liberty,” one of the best-known landmarks of the New York skyline, was actually a gift to the United States from the people of France. It was dedicated as a universal symbol of freedom and democracy on October 28, 1886, and became a National Monument in 1924. The Statue of Liberty has a few key symbols associated with her, such as the torch, crown and face, the tablet and dates, and the chains. Lady Liberty’s torch was restored in 1986, and the original 1886 torch is located in an exhibit for all to see. The new torch is covered with 24k gold sheets. As for the crown and face, the iconic crown has seven rays, one for each of the seven continents, and her face is more than 8 feet tall. As for the monument’s tablet and dates, the 23-foot, seven-inch-long-tablet has the inscription “July IV MDCCLXXVI” (July 4, 1776). Lastly, Lady Liberty’s broken chains represent the cessation of oppression and tyranny.

When visiting the Statue of Liberty, there are two ways to climb inside the monument. First, you can either walk/climb the 215 steps from the lobby to the top of the pedestal, or you can take the elevator. From my own experience, there is nothing better than the view of New York, Ellis Island, and the surrounding areas from the top of the pedestal. Another way is to visit the monument’s crown. Access to the crown is only available with advance tickets. Tickets are also needed for the pedestal.

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Mount Rushmore – Located in the Black Hills of South Dakota, the faces of George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Theodore Roosevelt, and Abraham Lincoln can be seen for miles throughout the Black Hills National Forest. These four presidential faces are visited by more than three million people annually in their home at Mount Rushmore. The mountain’s sculptor, Gutzon Borglum, chose these four presidents based on their important events and contributions to history. Borglum led over 400 workers in carving the monument, which they began in 1927 and completed in 1941. A total of 450,000 tons of rock had to be removed to create the heads. Borglum’s original plan was to show the presidents from the waist up. However, lack of funding stopped the carving after the faces were completed.

Today, Mount Rushmore is known as the “Shrine of Democracy.” On July 4, 1930, a dedication ceremony was held for the head of George Washington. The remaining three presidents each had their dedication ceremonies between 1936 and 1939. After Borglum’s death in 1941, his son took over the job and completed Mount Rushmore’s final details. It is known as a “Shrine of Democracy” because of Borglum’s intention for the monument was to promote the “continuance of the democratic-republican form of government throughout the world.”

The Liberty Bell, Statue of Liberty, and Mount Rushmore are just a few of the many classic national treasures in America. The list of beautiful places can go on and on, and all are on my own personal list of places to visit.

xoxo,

Megan

Article published in June issue of Forsyth Family Magazine. 

Taking the Stress out of Traveling with Kids

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It’s summer time! 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, food you eat, and the various activities you do. Also, collect postcards from the 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 regard 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

 

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 

Life Hack: The Multiple Uses of Vaseline

There are only a handful of products that I keep stocked in my beauty cabinet. One of those products is vaseline. This household item has multiple uses, everything from beauty to the home.

  1. Can use in place of shaving cream
  2. Glosses lips
  3. Keeps cuticles soft
  4. Tames unruly eyebrows
  5. Lengthens and strengthens eyelashes
  6. Moisturizes chapped hands
  7. Removes makeup
  8. Shrinks pores
  9. Distresses furniture
  10. Repairs scratched CDs and DVDS
  11. Makes perfume last longer
  12. At Halloween, apply to the inside of a pumpkin after craving to last longer

Trust me, vaseline is a can’t miss product and will always want to have on hand.

Xoxo,

Megan

Simply Carolina: My NC Bucket List

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I absolutely love my home state of North Carolina! From the mountains to the coast and everything in between, the Tarheel has something for everyone. This state is full of historic sites and attractions that are must-sees. Even though I have live here for my whole life, there are still many things I want to experience. Here is my NC bucket list.

  • Climb Old Baldy on Bald Head Island
  • Go to the ghost town of Portsmouth
  • Visit NC potters in Seagrove
  • Visit the Life and Science Museum in Durham
  • Climb Mount Mitchell
  • Visit the Carolina Coffee Shop in Chapel Hill, the oldest restaurant in NC.
  • Visit St. Thomas Episcopal Church in Bath, the oldest church in the state.
  • Go to a race at the Orange County Speedway
  • Run on an old Nascar track in Hillsborough
  • Do some shagging, shucking and jiving at the NC Oyster Festival
  • Raft the Nantahala
  • Climb the stairs to the top of the Corolla Lighthouse.
  • Take a dip in Lake Lure, the setting for that famous scene in Dirty Dancing.
  • Tour the USS North Carolina.
  • See the wild ponies at Shackleford Banks.
  • Slip down Sliding Rock.
  • Learn about sea turtle rescue at Topsail.
  • Visit the Carolina Raptor Center at Latta Plantation.
  • Climb the Cape Hatteras Lighthouse.
  • Paddle board on the Intracoastal Waterway.

Xoxo,

Megan

 

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Recipe for Dog Ice Cream

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I love any type of furry friends, especially my dog Gidget. Trust me, Gidget is pampered with love each and everyday. I try make sure she is given what she needs and has a healthy life. After now and then, I do give her a little treat of human food. But, I make sure the foods are safe to eat. Did you know some human foods are harmful to pets?

One of my favorite pet-friendly recipes is below and is perfect for every dog in your life. Plus, they will love it.

Ingredients:

3 ripe bananas

32 ounces plain yogurt

1 cup peanut butter

Directions:

Blend ingredients together and pour mixture into ice trays. Freeze for a couple of hours.

Enjoy!

xoxo,

Megan

 

To Inspire and Motivate – Samantha Brown

 

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“Authentic travel is never in the must sees, always in the mundane.”  -Samantha Brown

To travel- it’s a verb with a heavy definition. What exactly does it mean “to travel?” Well, it means something different to everyone, so here is my definition.

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 have a passion for traveling and was inspired by Brown to see the world.

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

Homemade Spanakopita

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This past weekend, I went to a Greek bake-sale in my hometown. Yum! I could have bought everything on the menu. One of the items I purchased was Spanakopita, which was devoured in no time. So, I decided to try to make some at home and wanted to share the recipe with you. Here is my homemade Spanakopita recipe.

Ingredients:

  • 1/3 cup olive oil
  • 2 pounds spinach, washed and drained
  • 1 bunch scallions, chopped
  • 1/4 cup chopped parsley
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 pound feta cheese, crumbled
  • 1 to 2 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1 cup  unsalted butter, melted
  • 1 pound filo pastry sheets

Directions:

  1. Heat 1 tablespoon of oil in a large sauce pan. Add half of the spinach and saute until spinach wilts, about 2 minutes. Remove spinach and squeeze out excess liquid, then chop roughly. Repeat with remaining spinach, using 1 more tablespoon of oil. Pour off any liquid from the pan, and add remaining oil.
  2. Add scallions and saute until soft, about 2 to 3 minutes. Add spinach, parsley, salt and pepper to the scallions. Cook over low heat for 1 to 2 minutes, then remove from to cool.
  3. Stir the feta and beaten egg to the cooled spinach mixture.
  4. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Brush a baking sheet with the melted butter.
  5. Unroll the filo dough on a flat surface and keep it covered with waxed paper and a damp towel so it doesn’t dry out. Using a sharp knife, cut the filo into 3 by 11 inch strips, and recover with the towel. Use a pastry brush to brush a strip of filo with melted butter. Place a small spoonful of spinach filling 1 inch from the end of the pastry. Fold the end over the filling to form a triangle, then continue to fold up the strip in triangles, like folding up a flag. Continue with remaining strips of dough, placing filled triangles on the baking sheet and keeping them covered with a towel until ready to bake.
  6. Brush the triangles lightly with butter, then bake for 20 to 25 minutes, or until golden and crisp. Enjoy!

xoxo,

Megan

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