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

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Easy, Breezy Chocolate Truffles

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This past weekend, I was craving anything chocolate but didn’t want to put forth much effort into making a yummy treat. So, I made these easy, breezy chocolate truffles. And trust me, they are very easy to make.

Ingredients:

  • 12 0z. bag milk chocolate chips
  • 1/4 cup sour cream
  • 2 Tbs. almond flavoring
  • Powdered sugar or cocoa

 

Directions:

  1. In a microwave-safe bowl, melt the chocolate chips on medium for 3-4 minutes, stirring halfway through.
  2. Once done melting, stir until completely smooth.
  3. Mix in the sour cream and almond flavoring and blend well.
  4. Refrigerate for 30-60 minutes.
  5. Roll into 3/4 inch. balls and then roll into powdered sugar or cocoa.

xoxo,

Megan

Life Hacks: Cheaper Ways to Shop Online

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

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

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

xoxo,

Megan

12 Thoughts from a Southerner

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Growing up in North Carolina can be described as summers spent outside, fall days at the county fair, and a winter snowfall once or twice a year. In my opinion, it was a privilege to grow up in the Tarheel state and the South. This area of the United States is special for multiple reasons. It is more than history, food, and traditions. Growing up Southern means you learn to always treasure those around you, even if you don’t know them, to live justly, and value life’s little lessons, such as the ones below.

1: Respect for elders is one of the most important things.

2: Also, respect for your momma and daddy is crucial.

3: Almost every sentence should include a “ma’am” or “sir.”

4: It is better to overdress for any occasion. (Football games, church, you name it-overdress.)

5: Handwritten letters don’t go out of style.

6: Your family will always support you and will always be the most important thing in your life.

7: In the summer, curfews are dictated by lightning bugs.

8: Southern food is the best. You will learn how to cook your grandma’s recipes by the time you are 20.

9: There is no need to be in a rush for everything.

10: Southern hospitality is a way of life that you will master by the time you are also 20.

11: School is canceled with the first flakes of snow.

12: You wouldn’t want to grow up anywhere else but in the South.

xoxo,

Megan

A Summer Must: Key Lime Strawberry Cheesecake

If you haven’t already noticed, I have a big sweet tooth. The Key Lime Strawberry Cheesecake recipe is perfect for fulfilling my sugar cravings and is a refreshing summer dessert. After all, it is a refreshing dessert for the whole year!

Enjoy!

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)

Directions: 

  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 the 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)

Directions:

  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

Directions: 

  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.

xoxo,

Megan

Creative Activities to Commemorate the End of Summer

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For many families, the days of summer and no school are winding down. Soon, days will be filled with school, extracurricular activities, and early sunsets. Cherish the remaining longer days with your loved ones and enjoy time together with these three summer activities.

Ice Cream in a Bag

Ingredients (The amount is per person; multiply the ingredients by how many people you are making the ice cream for): 

  • 1 cup half and half
  • 1/2 cup rock salt
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • Ice
  • Sandwich-size resealable plastic bag
  • Gallon-size resealable plastic bag
  • Toppings

Directions:

  1. In a bowl, stir together the cream, sugar, and vanilla.
  2. Pour the mixture into a sandwich-size bag and close.
  3. Add the ice and rock salt into the gallon-size bag. Then, place the filled sandwich-size bag inside the gallon-size bag and seal.
  4. Shake the bags for about 5 minutes until the ice cream is frozen.
  5. Remove the gallon-size bag with the rock salt and throw away.
  6. Cut a corner off the sandwich-size bag and squeeze out the ice cream into a bowl. Add toppings, if you desire.

Enjoy!

Glow in the Dark Sidewalk Chalk 

Materials (per chalk color): 

  • 1 cup Plaster of Paris
  • 1 tablespoon glow in the dark or fluorescent paint
  • 3/4 cup warm water
  • Ice cube trays

Directions (per chalk color): 

  1. Mix together the paint and water in a bowl.
  2. Add 1 cup of the Plater of Paris to the mixture.
  3. Pour the ingredients into the ice cube tray. Pack tightly for the chalk to hold its shape.
  4. Let dry for about 12 hours. Remove the chalk from the trays and have fun!
  5. Repeat steps for every paint color you would like to make.

Balloon Tennis

Materials: 

  • Balloons
  • Fly swatters

Directions: 

  1. Take turns hitting the balloon back and forth between players. Keep score of who can hit the balloon the most before it falls to the ground.

Happy Summer!

xoxo,

Megan

 

 

 

Recipe Wednesday: Mini Banana Cream Pies

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

Ingredients:

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

Directions:

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

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

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

Enjoy!

xoxo,

Megan

Rules for…Well, Me

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Last week on Facebook, I noticed mothers giving their daughters a set of rules. This list included 36 pieces of advice for the daughters to use in life. As I skimmed through the tips, I thought about the importance of these encouragements and how everyone needs to hear them. Below are a few words of advice that now serve as rules for…well, me.

1. Make your bed every day; even if it’s right before you get in it.
2. Don’t wear holey underwear in case you’re in an accident and they cut your clothes off.
3. It’s okay to cry when you’re hurt. It’s also okay to smash things; but, wash your face, clean your mess, and get up off the floor when you’re done. You don’t belong down there.
4. Seek out the people and places that resonate with your soul.
5. Just because you can doesn’t mean you should.
6. 5-second rule. It’s just dirt. There are worse things in a fast-food cheeseburger.
7. Be less sugar, more spice, and only as nice as you’re able to without compromising yourself.
8. Hold your heroes to a high standard. Be your own hero.
9. If you can’t smile with your eyes, don’t smile. Insincerity is nothing to aspire to.
10. Never lie to yourself.
11. Your body, your rules.
12. If you have an opinion, you better know why.
13. Practice your passions.
14. Ask for what you want. The worse thing they can say is no.
15. Wish on stars and dandelions, then get to work to make them happen.
16. Don’t skimp on good sheets.
17. Fall hard and forever in love with nothing but yourself.
18. Say Please, Thank You, and Pardon Me, whenever the situation warrants it.
19. Reserve I’m sorry for when you truly are.
20. Naps are for grown-ups, too.
21. Question everything except your own intuition.
22. You have enough. You are enough.
23. You are amazing! Don’t let anyone ever make you feel you are not. If someone does….walk away. You deserve better.
24. No matter where you are, you can always go home.
25. Be happy, say your prayers and remember your roots.
26. Say what you mean and mean what you say.

xoxo,

Megan

The Power of Laughter

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“What do you call an alligator in a vest? An investigator.” Did that pun make you laugh? If so, congratulations – you just strengthened your immune system, lowered your stress level, and got in a little bit of exercise. A simple laugh can cause the above health benefits, as well as many others,  to happen within your body. We have all heard the quote “laughter is the best medicine,” but do you know why?

Laughter has been known to be a positive healing force. It has physical, mental, and social advantages. When looking at your physical health, research shows a good laugh helps boost your T-cells. These cells are specialized immune system cells which, when activated, help your body fight off sickness. In addition, laughing releases endorphins, your body’s natural painkillers. When they are released, chronic pain can be relieved. Another benefit is lower blood pressure and stress hormone levels. Lowering a person’s blood pressure helps reduce their risk of stroke and heart attacks. Stress and anxiety levels can also be decreased, which triggers the T-cells to increase your body’s immune resistance. Lastly, humor can help a person add exercise into her day. When you are laughing, your stomach muscles expand and contract, providing effects similar to doing ab workouts. Along with your abs, laughing gets your heart pumping and can burn as many calories as walking at a slow to moderate pace. Can’t complete a physical activity due to injury, illness, or another health problem? Start laughing to get your body moving.

Humor has many mental health benefits. When a person’s stress and anxiety levels are decreased, a sense of well-being and joy can occur. Laughing is known to help create a positive and optimistic outlook. It helps a person shift her attitude and perspective during a disappointing and difficult time. Psychological research states humor allows people to see things more realistically and stop them from feeling overwhelmed. Another benefit is when you are laughing, you can’t feel any other emotions. You can’t be angry or sad when you have a smile on your face. Instead, your energy is increased, giving you a sense of hope and strength to face life’s challenges. A simple smile or small chuckle can go a long way, no matter how you are feeling.

Lastly, relationships are strengthened, and your social health can improve through laughter. There is a reason why people say laughter is contagious because when one person starts laughing, it is easy to join in. It helps people connect and share a moment of humor and happiness. Humor can be used as a way to communicate and produce positive feelings among people. When a positive bond is created, people will be more spontaneous, express their emotions more, and there are fewer disappointments and disagreements.

All people learn how to laugh as babies. However, as you grow up, it can be harder to find things that humor you. Life’s challenges could make it hard or you might not feel like laughing because of one thing or another. Sometimes you have to make an effort to laugh during the tough times. Easier said than done, right? Try bringing humor into your day by completing small tasks, such as renting a funny movie, reading a funny book, or watching a funny television show. Every Sunday, your newspaper has a section dedicated to making you laugh, so why not check it out? Also, take a walk down memory lane and remember the hilarious moments of when things didn’t go right. Keep up to date on good jokes and stories, or play with a pet or children. Finding laughter in your everyday life can be trying, but take the time to do fun activities with your family and friends. Be silly and goof around. Once you start laughing, you’ll recognize the many benefits. After all, Charlie Chaplin once said, “A day without laughter is a day wasted.”

xoxo,

Megan