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

Cheerwine Cupcakes

This is a favorite recipe for many and a popular one, so I’d thought I would post it again! Plus, is there anything better a cup of ice cold Cheerwine? Don’t know what Cheerwine is?  The beverage is a cherry soft-drink, founded in North Carolina. Trust me, it is a must-try!

This soft-drink has multiple uses, including being made into quick and easy cupcakes!

Ingredients:

Cupcakes:

  • 1 box white cake mix
  • 12 ounces Cheerwine
  • 1/8 teaspoon cherry flavor
  • Maraschino cherries
Frosting: 
  • 4 cups Cheerwine
  • 1 cup butter, softened
  • 2-3 cups of powdered confectioner sugar

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350ºF. Line cupcake pans with liners and set aside
  2. Whisk together cake mix, Cheerwine, and cherry flavor. Pour into prepared pans and bake according to package instructions. Cool completely.
  3. In a saucepan, boil down the Cheerwine until it has reduced to 1/2 cup.
  4. In a mixer, cream butter and 2 cups of powdered sugar on medium speed. Slow speed to low and add Cheerwine reduction. Increase speed to high and beat until light and fluffy, adding additional sugar if needed.
  5. Pipe frosting onto cupcakes and top with maraschino cherries.

Enjoy!

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

2017 Top Book Reviews

I’m always up for a good book and I’m always on the lookout for my next read. Each year, I keep a list of all the novels I’ve read and whether or not I liked them. However, I request the assistance of reviews to help me pick out a book. These reviews are helpful and give me insight into what the story is about. So, I decided to do the same with the top three books that I read in 2017.

Kid Carolina: R.J. Reynolds Jr., a Tobacco Fortune, and the Mysterious Death of a Souther Icon by Heidi Schnakenberg 

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My hometown, Winston-Salem, North Carolina, is greatly influenced by the legacy of R.J. Reynolds and his family. Reynolds helped build the town back in the early 20th century. I have a deep fascination for this family and the events that occurred in their lives. After reading The Gilded Leaf in 2016, I became interested in learning more about the life of R.J. Reynolds Jr.

The book Kid Carolina is a detailed biography of Dick Reynolds’ personal relationships and demons, careers in politics and business and his love for the sea and sky. Schnakenberg goes above and beyond in covering all aspects, from his childhood to his death, which still remains a mystery, and how he earned the nickname “Kid Carolina” as a teenager. If you are a historical nonfiction lover, you’ll definitely enjoy this read.

4.5 stars out of 5

Anxious for Nothing: Finding Calm in a Chaotic World by Max Lucado 

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This book came into my life at just the right time. As many of you know, I have depression and anxiety. New York Times bestselling author Max Lucado put the words of God that I needed to hear into writing and has helped me create a better balance in my life. Lucado provides readers with a map of trusting in God to ease worries and promote a sense of thankfulness. If you are struggling with the stress of daily life or could use some calm in a chaotic world, this book is perfect for you. Plus, Proverbs 31 Ministries has a great Bible study to go along with your reading – I’m looking forward to completing it again!

5 stars out of 5

Wonder by R.J. Palacio

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As I’m currently studying for my graduate certificate in middle grades education, I’m learning more about the lives and developmental needs of young adolescents. After seeing the trailers for the movie, I thought it would be a good decision to read the book, Wonder, to compliment my studies. This novel is centered around August Pullman, a boy with facial birth defects. August, also known as Auggie, is entering the fifth grade and a public school for the first time. Palacio gives an excellent description of Auggie’s life, his family and their challenges, and how Auggie teaches his fellow classmates respect and empathy for others. In addition, Wonder started the #ChooseKind campaign and has taught others to spread kindness to everyone around them (you know I’m all about spreading kindness in the world). Let’s just say I’ll definitely be teaching this book in my classroom.

4 stars out of 5

xoxo,

Megan

 

Moravian Sugar Cake

 

When Winston-Salem, NC is your hometown, you know all about the Moravians and their famous Sugar Cake. The Moravians are a protestant group who originated in the Czech Republic around 1415. 250 years ago, they settled in Winston-Salem’s Wachovia Tract.

Moravian Sugar Cake: 
Ingredients: 
1 medium-size russet potato, peeled and cut into 1-inch pieces
1 envelope active dry yeast
 ½ teaspoon plus 1 sugar
½ cup shortening
¼ cup butter, softened

1 teaspoon salt

2 large eggs, beaten
 3 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup butter, cut into ¼-inch cubes and chilled
1 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
Directions: 

1. Place the potato in a small saucepan, cover with water and simmer, covered, for 15 minutes or until tender. Drain well, reserving the cooking water. Mash the potato as smooth as possible with a fork, food mill, or ricer.

2. Measure out 1 cup of potatoes into a small bowl and stir in 2 tablespoons of the potato cooking water. Cover and keep warm.

3. Dissolve the yeast and ½ teaspoon sugar in ¼ cup warm potato water; let stand 5 minutes, or until mixture bubbles. Discard any remaining potato cooking water.

4.  Stir together the warm mashed potato, the remaining 1 cup sugar, the shortening, ¼ cup butter, and salt in a large mixing bowl; stir until melted. Stir in the yeast mixture. Cover and let rise in a warm place for 1½ hours, or until spongy.

5. Stir in the eggs and flour to make a dough.Shape the dough into a ball. Place in a greased bowl, turning to grease the top. Cover with a cloth or plastic wrap misted with nonstick spray and let rise in a warm place for 2 hours, or until doubled in bulk.Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface; knead 5 minutes or until smooth and elastic.

6. Pat the dough evenly in a greased 9×13-inch baking pan. Cover and let rise in a warm place for 2 hours, or until doubled in bulk.

7. Preheat the oven to 375°. Deeply dimple the surface of the dough with your thumb or the end of a wooden spoon. Tuck a butter cube into each dimple.

8. Stir together the brown sugar and cinnamon in small bowl; sprinkle evenly over the dough and down into the dimples.

9. Bake in center of oven for 20 minutes, or until browned and cooked through. Let cool 5 minutes before serving.

Enjoy!

xoxo,

Megan