Be prepared for natural disasters and emergencies. Learn how to make a 72 hour bug out bag.
Growing up in Texas, we live with tropical storms, hurricanes and tornadoes every year. In fact, when hurricane Harvey came through, lots of friends mine were nervous about it. Growing up around them, I was quite used to it – plus, I’m well prepared. That got me thinking, maybe I could help others have peace of mind, by showing you how to make a 72 hour bug out bag.
A 72 Hour Bug Out Bag
A bug out bag is a backpack or some other portable bag that you take with you in the event you need to leave your house in an emergency. Conversely, you may be isolated into one safe area of your house. During hurricane Harvey, for instance, many people sought refuge on their second floor when the entire downstairs was flooded. The reality is it might be days before help comes or waters recede. In many cases, windstorms produce flooding which in turn can contaminate local water supplies.
Believe me. I worked as an insurance adjuster for 12 years. Everyday I helped people recover from cataclysmic disasters. Some families go a week or more without electricity. It isn’t just homes that are affected, it’s business too. When I worked hurricane Katrina, even gas stations and grocery stores were destroyed. Credit card machines and everything electronic didn’t work. So whether it be to retreat somewhere in your house or if you have to leave, a bug out bag will help you survive. You should have an emergency bug out bag for every person in your home.
What to Put In Your Bag
First aid kit
Mini Bottles of Alcohol (high proof)
Food & Hydration
Collapsible Camp stove
Dehydrated / non-perishable food for 72 hours (per person)
Water purification tablets
Fishing line and hook
Emergency Mylar blankets
Twine or rope
Emergency rain poncho
Heat Sources / Other
Laundry soap (Fels Naptha)
Dust mask (N95)
Tissue or toilet paper
Playing cards (to pass the time)
Flint fire starter
Mini sewing kit
Travel size toothpaste
Here is a look inside a few things that are in my bag.
Usage of Supplies
Basic survival consists of shelter from the elements, food, water, and medicine.
Many supplies serve several purposes. Liquor, for example can be a disinfectant for supplies, even for wounds. It can be used as a mouth wash (it kills bacteria), to destroy mold, even as a fire starter. If you blend it with an oil it can even be used as a bug and insect repellent. Of course, it can also be used a pain reliever. You want to aim for the highest proof possible, like vodka. Mini liquor bottles are ideal.
A bandana can be used to wash yourself or your dishes. Cut into ribbons, you can mark your trail. Additionally, you can use it as a makeshift tourniquet, napkin, pot holder, a pouch, sunblock, sling, filter, firearm cleaner, makeshift toilet paper, dust mask, etc. You can really get creative with your supplies in an emergency situation.
I recommend storing some of your supplies in waterproof and ziplock bags. Not only do they protect your equipment, but the bag itself is a tool. You want to store your bag at room temperature.
When it comes to water and food, it has to be stored properly. For instance, food that you buy at the grocery store is designed for short life shelf storage. Normally with in a few months, even many dry goods will expire. Even drinking water needs to be safely stored for long term storage. Examples:
Even Wal-mart online has emergency food storage. For instance, you can buy this 30 Day Food Storage Supply and divide it among the bug out bags for your family.
I hope you never encounter an emergency situation, but I can assure you that being prepared gives you a lot of peace of mind. If you enjoyed this blog post, please subscribe to my blog for future updates and freebies. Thanks for reading!
Success! You're on the list.
Whoops! There was an error and we couldn't process your subscription. Please reload the page and try again.
Afraid of using cast iron? Here is a simple way to wash, season and care for your cast iron at home.
I was always intimidated to use cast iron even though it is probably the least sophisticated of all cookware. When I was about twenty, I bought a cast iron skillet and rusted it out after just a few weeks of cooking. I had no idea how to care for it. So I shrieked back from every using it. That is until about eight years later when I discovered that scratch cooking on cast iron is amazing!
Cast Iron is the work horse of all kitchen tools. It never breaks down. It can take a beating and it can cook everything. Iron is an amazing conductor of heat and evenly distributes it around the pan.
Tried and Tested
It is the first of it’s kind when it comes to non-stick cookware. In fact, England has been using cast iron cookware since the late 600’s and it predates that time in Asia, particularly in the Orient.
Cast iron cookery comes in just about every vessel you can think of. Waffle makers, panini presses, Dutch ovens, woks, deep fryers, skillets, and grills. It’s extremely versatile. I love my Dutch oven. You can use it for soups and stews and even go from stovetop to oven (be careful, it’s heavy and hot) and it can double as an oven and slow cooker. I’ve even made bread, cake, and cobblers in my Dutch oven. Going camping? Use your cast iron cookware by putting it strait on the hot coals.
Teflon came into use in the 1940’s and over the next couple of decades cast iron slowly lost it’s appeal because of the convenience of Teflon. There is a lot of question as to how safe Teflon is, but most agree that it is non-toxic under 500 degrees F. That means that Teflon is potentially toxic for certain oils like avocado oil and safflower oil.
How To Care For Cast Iron
How to Wash Cast Iron
Cast iron should never be washed like other dishes. First, lets start with the basics. Iron can actually rust naturally in the air without ever applying water. That’s why it’s necessary to protect it carefully.
Wash your pan using warm water and rough scrubber. Add kosher salt to help with stuck on food.
How to Season Cast Iron
You may have heard the term “seasoning” before when it comes to cast iron. No this doesn’t mean spices. Haha. It refers to the process in which you protect your iron from rust and create a non-stick surface.
How To Season Cast Iron
Wash Your Cast Iron
Use steel wool and warm water (not hot) and wash the oil excess oils away.
Dry your pan
Wipe your iron dry and put on the stove to remove and remaining water. Once done, let your pan cool down.
Place an oven liner or tin foil on the lower rack to catch drips. Preheat your oven to 425 degrees.
Oil Your Pan
Apply a thin coat of oil to your pan. Rub excess off with a soft cloth.
Bake Your Cast Iron
Place your cast iron in the oven upside down so any excess oil drips off the pan. Cure your pan for an hour in the oven. Take care removing from the oven, remember, its heavy and hot! Let cool to room temperature and store.
Pro Tip: If your iron is sticky, it is from excess oil that did not finishing seasoning when it was heated.
Time flies! Let me reminisce, share my thankfulness, dreams for the future, and ways you can continue to support me. Here is what I have to say on my 100th blog post.
My 100th Blog Post
Wow! I can’t believe this is my 100th blog post. Let me tell you, this is huge! I originally started this blog in 2013, but only committed to it last October. So to be here with 100 quality posts means I’m actually doing this blogging thing! It’s been rough at times. There have been hiccups, website bugs (%$&@#!) , and setbacks but I’m still here and still writing. I’m still loving every minute of this.
First, I want to take a moment and thank everyone who has supported me and my blog. The first thanks goes to my husband, Dan. He encourages me on days where I feel like I’m failing at this and he gives me the time and space to write. Thanks babe. I couldn’t do this without you.
Secondly, a special thank you to you reading this. When I started this blog about nine months ago, I had no idea how to start or how to do this. Every time you like a photo, click on a link, or read a post, I’m sincerely grateful and humbled. Your comments mean a lot to me. In fact, they keep me going. There are so many days when I think I should quit this. Then one of you will say how much you love reading this blog and it re-energizes my passion. YOU make all this possible. Every time you read or share my post, you help me live out my dream of being a writer. Thank you.
Lastly, I want to thank the other women who courageously shared their inspirational stories in guests posts. Koral Dawn from the Unsanity Blog, Jessica Schweikardt from Forever and Evie, Kira McCloskey – you ladies are awesome. Thank you so much for contributing your talents to my blog. If there is something you’d like to share with others, but don’t have a platform, I’d love to hear from you. You don’t have to be a writer, you just have to be sincere. If there is something you want to share with my audience, please contact me about how we can get your story posted here on My Beautiful Mess.
How To Support Me
Let me absolutely clear. You don’t have to spend a single penny to support someone with a blog (although it’s awesome if you do).
One of the best things you can do to show your support is simply share my post on your social media. It doesn’t cost you a dime and yet it creates a ripple effect of help for me. Every time you share a post, whether it be pinned to Pinterest, on Twitter or on Facebook, my post gets shared with a whole new audience. It takes you a second, but it helps me for months.
Finally, please e-mail subscribe to my blog. It costs you nothing. First, it lets me know you are reading this. Second, it helps me deliver unique, more personalized content to you. It automatically enters you in giveaways and you get subscriber-only content. Lastly, it helps me financially support my family, yet doesn’t cost you a penny. Having subscribers gives me greater opportunities as an online influencer.
Success! You're on the list.
Whoops! There was an error and we couldn't process your subscription. Please reload the page and try again.
All 100 Posts
I did all the hard work and compiled a list of all the posts I’ve done since October 2018. I hope you enjoy reading them.
So you bought your first decorative planner! If you are new to the decorative planning world, I’m proving 12 tips for Happy planner newbies.
12 Tips for Happy Planner Newbies
Make It Your Own
There are no “rules” when it comes to using your planner. These days there are literally hundreds of Facebook groups and thousands of Instagram feeds with beautifully curated spreads. Ultimately, your planner should reflect you and your personality. It should be functional and actually help you get organized. It’s okay if your handwriting is terrible or if things are crossed out or highlighted. Your planner is yours and no one else’s! Don’t copy or compare yourself. Find your own planner “voice.”
Confession time: I own every sticker book made by The Happy Planner ®. In fact, I even have duplicates. But then, I’ve been a Happy Planner since 2015. I’ve had a long time to acquire them. When you first get your planner it’s tempting to go a little overboard and buy every sticker book and accessory on the market. But I can tell you, it gets overwhelming for a lot of newbies. Most sticker books have around 1,000 stickers in them. Some people are overwhelmed by spending time flipping around sticker books looking for that one sticker they want. Start slowly. Buy two or three sticker books to start with. You can build your collection slowly (if you choose) over time.
Find Planner Peace
With the October release last year, I was so excited to get the Super Mom planner. After all, I’m a stay-at-home-mom, right? I should rock this thing! Until then, I had always used a vertical planner. This planner was a dashboard layout, meaning it grouped tasks into categories for you like errands, shopping lists, phone calls, etc. Four months into it and I couldn’t make it work. I struggled to decorate it. Then I suddenly realized I needed things by the day, not by the task. I went back to my vertical planner. The one that was tried and true. My point is, don’t be afraid to change what’s not working for you. Don’t hold onto it because you spent money or invested time into it. If something is stopping you from enjoying your planner or staying organized, switch things up. Find what works for you.
No one says you have to fill up your page with stickers. Some people use washi tape, highlighters, and markers to decorate. Washi tape is a Japanese masking tape. It’s colorful, but it’s also very inexpensive for how much you get on a roll. It comes in all different thickness and some even come with foiled metallic designs or glitter. This makes it a very inexpensive decorating option. When first buying washi tape, I recommend starting with basic colors. The Happy Planner has their own washi tape which coordinates well with a lot of their stickers. But Michaels, Joann, and Hobby Lobby all sell tubes and single rolls of washi tape.
I love to decorate 3-4 weeks ahead. I basically plan for the current month. This is easy to do since my life is very routine oriented. But for some people, they’re a little fearful about planning in advance. Others like to stay within the current week because their decorating corresponds with their current mood. That’s fine. As I said earlier, your planner is yours. However, your planner is also supposed to be functional. One thing that helped me, is using sticky notes as placeholders for future events. If you are worried about plans changing between now and a future event, sticky notes are a great solution. If something changes, you can easily remove or adjust without losing any real estate on your planner.
Scheduling Planner Time
Using a planner is about creating a habit. For people who have never used a planner before, it might be hard to remember to open it up. I recommend scheduling time to plan. For me, I make time on the weekend, typically on a Sunday. I sit down decorate and go over all my goals, appointments and tasks I need to get done. I found I have to prioritize planner time. That sounds silly, doesn’t it, but it’s true. Making time to plan has to be just as important as an appointment or anything else I have to remember. I’ve also found that it helps to keep it open on my workspace. For me as a stay-at-home mom, it’s my kitchen. I keep it open on the counter and refer back to it all day long to make sure I accomplish things.
I Bought A New Planner But I Can’t Use it Yet
So perhaps you purchased a planner, but it doesn’t begin until July or January. Fear not, if this is a classic planner, you can buy a monthly extension pack to start right away. The extension pack is available in the classic vertical and in the hourly formats. The pack comes with six months of undated sheets (date stickers included).
Do I Need More Than One Planner
Technically, no you don’t. The beauty of the Happy Planner is that you can do everything from one planner. Wellness, fitness, budgeting, faith (bible study) can all be done from your planner by using stickers as your guide. However, there are definitely people, myself included that prefer more in-depth planner help.
For example, I own a Wellness planner. I really needed some self-care after giving birth to my son. I use it to schedule me time, things that bring me joy, and even use it as a journal to pen thoughts and work through emotions. If you want a look on how to use it, see my post How to Use the Wellness Happy Planner. Truth be told, I own 5 planners that I use on a regular basis. (One to run this blog, my everyday, my teacher planner, my wellness and my faith planner which I use for bible study.) Other people want a large focus on fitness or budgeting. If that’s the case, there are options for you, but it certainly isn’t necessary.
I’m a little surprised by this one, but I often hear, “what are dashboards and how do I use them? Dashboards are effectively bookmarks. They are placeholders you can use to easily flip to your monthly or weekly spread. One thing, I also like to use it for is sticky notes! I love to place sticky notes on them as little reminders for things that don’t actually need to go in my planner. I know some people use it as a dry erase board. The choice is yours.
Dry Erase Boards
Which leads us to the next topic. Over the last year, the Happy Planner (MAMBI) has come out with dry erase inserts. Lots of people love the idea. I picked up as many as I could find. However, after they first came out with it, people complained that the dry erase smudged from opening and closing the planner. I highly recommend using wet erase markers like Vis-a-Vis.
I always get asked, “when does Happy Planner come out with new product?” The Happy Planner actually has a pretty easy schedule to follow. The new year for Happy Planner actually begins in the fall, normally October. This is when the Happy Planners for the upcoming year start hitting store shelves. In the Spring, often around March or April, there is another release of sticker books, accessories and 18-month planners. These planners begin in July and continue from January to December of the next year. Later in the summer, the Teacher and Student planners and accessories are released. In between the seasonal releases, Happy Planner has started to release few other limited edition releases such as the Be Happy Box.
What Is the Happy Planner Squad
The Happy Planner Squad is a group of Happy Planner enthusiasts (fans like you and me). Using their Instagram accounts, they promote Happy Planner products by illustrating their designs and ways they use Happy Planner in their every day life. These ambassadors are hand selected by the MAMBI (Me and My Big Ideas – makers of the Happy Planner) team. Once a year, they accept submissions and the rules and guidelines will be on the Happy Planner site. All are encouraged to apply, but competition is fierce. Currently, the ambassadorship commitment is one calendar year.
Before You Go
Don’t forget to PIN this post, 12 Planner Tips for Happy Planner Newbies, for later or share it with a fellow newbie. Also, don’t forget to check out my other Happy Planner posts:
Try this fun 18th century colonial cornbread recipe with your kids this Fourth of July. Hoecakes: a Revolutionary War recipe.
I thought I’d do something a little interesting and different here on My Beautiful Mess. Since July 4th is upon us, I thought I’d share a simple recipe for hoecakes: a Revolutionary War recipe. This Independence Day, why not try something our founding fathers used to eat.
What Are Hoecakes
American Southerners were the first to create this cornbread patty. Honestly, I’m not entirely sure how to describe it. I did a lot of research before trying this recipe a few times. Hoecakes resemble pancakes, but they aren’t. At best, they might qualify as a distant cousin. Pancakes are soft and fluffy and made with flour. Hoecakes are denser, tougher, and to me, almost seem like a hybrid between pancakes and corn tortillas.
A Quick History
In England in the 1600’s, a hoe was the name of what we now know as a griddle. Back then, it was common to bake cakes on griddles. In fact, cooking was very different back then. Food was cooked by a fireplace, specifically on the hearth. Cooks would place the pots and hoes on the hearth to cook. Then they’d move the pots close or far away from the fire depending on how hot it needed to be. Without cooking thermometers, women determined the temperature by how many seconds they could withstand the heat when their arm was placed in the fireplace (oven). Crazy, right? And you thought cooking today was a chore!
When settlers came from England, they had little imagination when it came to using corn. Corn had been domesticated by the Native Americans and to early settlers, corn was a crude substitute for flour. Since cornmeal didn’t not respond well to leveling agents and was naturally sweet, they simply fashioned it into small cake patties and fried it on a griddle. Thus hoecakes were born.
Hoe cakes were described as George Washington’s favorite breakfast in which he ate them slathered in “butter and honey.” Over the next century, hoecakes eventually became a dish of regional pride and a staple on the Southern colonial table.
The Modern Hoecake
These days, hoecakes, also called Johnny Cakes, are still a regional favorite here in the South. Today, ingredients like egg, milk, even flour are added to make it closer to pancakes. Sometimes spices and sugar are added to sweeten it up. However, for today’s purposes, we’re going to eat it like the colonists did.
How To Make Hoecakes
Hoecakes are simple to make. They are simply cornmeal and boiling hot water mixed into a batter and fried in a small amount of peanut oil. I’m sure you can use other oils if you’re allergic to peanuts. The consistency of the batter should be fairly thick. Closer to a wet dough than a batter. If it’s as runny as pancake batter, you’ve done it wrong. Secondly, I recommend using a non-stick skillet. I personally prefer to use my cast iron one, but since I haven’t season it yet, we’ll use a regular pan. Aim for making them around six inches.
Hoecakes are traditionally made with white cornmeal, but since I have yellow cornmeal, that’s what I’ll be using today. As I mentioned before, you’ll needed to use boiling hot water to make sure they don’t break apart when you try to remove them from the pan.
Hoecakes should have crispy edges and should be a glistening golden brown. Hoecakes are best when served warm. I recommend taking a cue from George Washington and using butter and either honey, maple syrup, and or cane syrup.
Tired of your boring roast? Try this recipe for Mexican pulled pork (pork roast) – slow cooker pork carnitas.
Yummy pork carnitas – it is one of my favorite Mexican dishes. I particularly love them too because there is always enough leftovers for another meal and any night I can get out of cooking is a happy accident! Carnitas literally translates to “little meats.” But if you’ve ever wondered what it is, it’s basically just Mexican pulled pork.
Making Slow cooker Pork Carnitas
Here in Texas, because of the large Hispanic demographic, it’s super easy to find pork perfectly trimmed for carnitas. But don’t fret, all you need is pork shoulder or pork butt roast. Normally it weighs about 2-4 pounds. Some of that will cook down due to the high fat marbling. You will place it whole in the slow cooker, no water needed.
Juice your orange. You can substitute with store bought orange juice. About a half cup to a cup is fine. Pour over your meat. Add your spices and chopped onion.
Now to add your jalapeño If you want it more on the mild side, I recommend deveining the jalapeño. To do this, chop off the top of the pepper. Slice the pepper in half while on it’s side. Pull out all of the seeds and thinly slice the vein of the pepper off and discard both. Then chop your jalapeño as normal. Don’t be afraid to use a whole jalapeño. The pepper heat reduces a lot as it cooks.
Pro tip: Use gloves to stop the pepper oils from getting in your hand, Remember, never touch your face or sensitive areas while handling peppers.
Serving and Storing
Your pork roast will cook on low for about 8 hours. You’ll know it’s ready when you can pull apart the meat with a fork. That’s right. Pork carnitas should be melt-in-your-mouth, fork tender when they are done.
Personally, my favorite way to serve pork carnitas is in soft tacos. There is nothing quite like warm, homemade flour tortilla tacos. I love topping them with cilantro and onion. I prefer to serve them with traditional spanish rice (yup, I have a recipe for that too) and charro beans. During the summer, I’ll often switch it up for a side of Mexican street corn. So yummy!
Store slowcooker pork carnitas in the fridge for 3 days in an air tight container.
No one wants to admit they are jealous, but if you’re battling to happy in the successes of others, this is for you. Join me for scripture reading Jealousy and Comparison.
Hello friend. This month’s scripture reading is going to be centered around jealousy and comparison. I think this is a neglected topic, specifically in modern Christianity, so let’s talk about it.
What is Jealousy and Envy
Envy, jealousy and comparison are feelings rooted in insecurity, greed, and pride. Jealousy is the feeling of being replaced or outshined by a rival. Envy is the coveting or discontentment by another’s possessions, circumstances, or qualities. Both of them keep us from realizing our own potential.
Social media, for example, is a great catalyst for feelings of envy. It provides us an intimate glimpse into someone’s private life. We see their vacations, fun events, new houses, new jobs, and even romantic relationships. It’s easy to start comparing your life against someone else’s. Perhaps a friend’s life seems more exciting than yours. Maybe someone seems to be surrounded by countless friends or maybe a neighbor or coworker always seems to have financial blessings.
Many of us don’t think of ourselves as overly jealous, but here are some basic questions you might ask if you feel there is a problem. (Excerpt from the book Mind Over Emotions by Les Carter)
Do you work hard to come out looking good in situations?
Do you tend to be status conscious?
Do you need a lot of recognition for achievements?
Do you find it hard to pay compliments to others?
Do you base your self image on your performance?
Do you have hidden feelings of inferiority?
Do you complain about unfair treatment?
Are you willing to pass on negative rumors about a successful person?
Remember Your Identity in Christ
Earlier this year, I shared a scripture reading post, Identity in Christ. Knowing who you are in Christ really does solve a lot of life’s problems. Jealousy and often spark feelings of insecurity and inferiority. The way we fight that is to remember what scripture says about us. I encourage you to read my post if you are wrangling with self-worth issues. Root yourself in the God’s loving view of you.
The deeper my relationship with Christ, the more I understand the need for gratitude. It really is the remedy for lots of our problems. We limit the power comparison has over us when we focus on our own blessings. Yes, they are blessed, but so are you! If you are keeping score and trying to balance blessings on a scale, you will be eternally frustrated. Furthermore, I’ve learned to realize that many times the blessings of others pour into my life as well.
Envy is the art of counting the other fellow’s blessings instead of your own.
Perhaps you have a friend who is talented at party planning. Maybe you’ve even asked her to teach you, but you can’t seem to do it with the same ease and creativity as she does. You can be envious of her gift or you can be grateful that you have access to her talents and imagination when you need party planning help. A perspective of gratitude is a great cure for envy.
Develop an Attitude of Abundance
Envy ensues when you feel an imbalance of success, gifts, or talents. This perceived disproportion causes feelings of insecurity and fear – as if there are only so many blessings to go around. For instance, sibling rivalry is the feeling of being overshadowed by a sibling. It can create feelings of scarcity when it comes to the love of a parent (e.g. if my mom loves my sister there will be less love for me).
Therefore, we must retrain our minds to have an attitude of abundance. There is such a thing as “healthy competition.” My dad used to say, “there is always room for one more hamburger stand.” “Competition” isn’t something to fear. There is always more where that came from! That’s because God owns it all. He is the one who bestows gifts, blessings, and talents and he never runs empty. There is never a need to be jealous once you realize that God has a future full of blessings for you (Jeremiah 29:11). I promise you this…he will never run out of favor.
Also, in 2 Corinthians (v. 9-8) Paul reminds us the reason behind abundant blessings – not for our glory, but for HIS. So that we “will abound in every good work.” Finally, we’re also told in Ecclesiastes (3:1-8) and Deuteronomy (28:12) that we go through seasons of blessings and droughts.
Ask God To Remove It
The first thing I recommend doing when these feelings spring up is to confess it. Tell God how you feel and why you are struggling with it. Confession is powerful because secrets control us. They become a stronghold. The enemy would love nothing more that to see you fester in resentment. Reject it and ask God to help you work through those feelings. Also, ask him to help you recognize the blessings he’s already given you and to give you an attitude of gratitude.
If you should desire to be like anyone, let it be Christ and not other sinners and imperfect people (Proverbs 23:17).
This yummy, cheesy, bacon cheeseburger casserole is easy for weeknight dinners, potlucks and makes a great left over meal.
Okay folks, today I’m sharing one of my favorite weeknight recipes. It combines three of my favorite ingredients: cheese, beef, and bacon. It also calls for a can of cream of chicken soup. Let’s be honest, all great casseroles contain this creamy can of meaty goodness.
I found a similar recipe a few years back in a magazine and I’ve tweaked it over the years and it’s turned into this yummy recipe.
So I find that ground beef with a higher fat content does better with this recipe. Normally, I’m an extra lean kind of girl. But since the meat will be cooked twice, the added fat helps keep the meat juicy. Otherwise, I find the meat tougher and dryer. Therefore, I recommend using 93% lean 7% fat. You’ll be draining off the excess fat, but that fat in the meat will keep it soft and tender.
Now let’s talk bacon. The recipe calls for a couple of strips of bacon. In a pinch you can buy bacon bits found in the salad section. But don’t use those God-awful fake orange ones. Use 100% real bacon. Hormel makes a decent one. Otherwise, I recommend using a couple of strips of actual bacon. No need to dirty another pan. Cut it up and add it to the meat. It also makes your meat extra flavorful. Drain off the excess fat.
The recipe also calls for a can of condensed cream of chicken soup. You may wonder why were adding that to a cheeseburger casserole. Well something has to hold the casserole together. Condensed soup works well, even when diluted. If you prefer to use cream of mushroom, that would work too. I’ve used it when that’s all I had in the pantry! The condensed soup combined with a small amount of cheese really helps hold everything together.
Serving & Storing Bacon Cheeseburger Casserole
I have a habit of serving this recipe with baked bread, particularly biscuits, but this is already a heavy meal so there is no need to do that.
Like most casseroles, this stores very well in an airtight container for about 2-3 days. That’s another reason to use the fattier beef. If you plan on warming it up again in the microwave as leftovers, the fattier meat will continue to stay juicy. I’ll be honest though, we rarely have leftovers. My entire family scarfs it down. Even my one year old!
There have been times I’ve doubled the recipe just for the purpose of leftovers if we have a busy week.
Cut bacon into small pieces and place in medium hot skillet with the ground beef.
Add garlic, salt & pepper, and chopped white onion
Continue frying until meat is browned and onion is translucent. Remove from heat.
Pour meat mixture into a casserole dish and spread evenly.
Take ⅓ cup of cheese (half of the cheese) and sprinkle it on top of meat mixture.
Place frozen tater tots in single file rows until all meat is covered.
Bake in oven for 35 minutes.
In the last five minutes of baking, sprinkle the remaining half of cheese on top tater tots and continue baking for an additional 5-10 minutes.
Don’t forget to try one of my dessert recipes like Banana Vanilla Wafer Pudding or Rich Fudgy Scratch Brownies. Also, be sure to PIN this post for later. Before you leave, please take a moment and subscribe to my blog so you don’t miss any recipes. I also send FREE, subscriber-only printables and recipes. Thanks for your support!
There is lots of misinformation about homeschooling. So today, I’m going to set the record strait by debunking myths about homeschooling.
Second Generation Homeschoolers
I had the honor of being a product of both private school and homeschooling. I attended private school in my early elementary years and was homeschooled thereafter for a number of reasons.
These days, I homeschool my two boys. Well, my oldest. T is a tad too young for standard teaching yet, but in a year or so, we’ll start tot school. Whenever I share my love for homeschooling, I receive a range of reactions from fellow parents. It spans from concern, to disgust, to sheer puzzlement. Others love the idea, but you can see the concern on their face as they ask questions like, “won’t they miss having friends?” “How will you know if they are up to par with public school kids?” Lastly, I hear a common exasperation, “I don’t think I’d have the patience for it.”
Today, I’m sharing some common answers to tired, clichéd stereotypes and assumptions surrounding the homeschooling world. As a second generation homeschooler, I’m debunking myths about homeschooling.
Debunking Myths About Homeschooling
I’m Not Qualified or Smart Enough to Teach My Children
Yes, you are. Public school teachers have support and direction and so do homeschooling parents. In fact, in most large cities, there are homeschooling conferences for parents and their “professional development.” There is a huge selection of teach-led curriculum which offers plenty of explanation and instructions to properly teach it. In addition, there are support groups, both online and local, to learn from other parents.
I know this is controversial because we all love and appreciate teachers. However, being a teacher doesn’t mean you’re smart. Statistically, education majors (teachers) have some of the lowest SAT scores by intended major. If you look at the 2016 report from Collegeboard.org, it finds that out of the 38 intended majors, teachers are 26th on the spectrum. The only mean scores beneath them are careers that don’t require degrees like culinary professions, agriculture, construction, and security. Education majors score poorly on the SATs and those scores have been declining since the 1970’s. To put it bluntly, most teachers just aren’t impressive academically. So yes, be assured you’re likely as “smart” as the average teacher. Teachers are just average people who have big hearts for teaching children.
My Children Won’t Be Socialized
This is by far, the most ignorant, irritating thing someone can say to me. However, I do understand why someone would assume that. But if by “socialized” you mean bullying, drugs, underage sex, drinking, mass shootings, and suicide, then you can keep your public school “socialization.” My in-laws teach in a small town in Canton, Ohio. In one year alone, their small town school district experienced a cluster of six teenage suicides. Children consume candy laced with narcotics. Bullying (along with cyber bullying) is an everyday occurrence.
Many people believe homeschooling coops children up in a house all day. Homeschooled children have as much social interaction as any other kids. These days, there are so many social outlets for kids taught at home. There are co-op classes, play dates, field trips, church ministries, sports, band, science labs, summer camps, orchestra, debate, drama clubs, and other extra-curricular activities. The difference is that you can be selective with whom your child associates. In public school, you have no control of your child’s classmates.
Homeschooled Children Are Sheltered
This leads us to our next myth. When I’ve explained the previous reason, most people will then say I’m sheltering my children from the real world. Believe me, as a homeschooled child, I was anything but sheltered. Being taught by my parents helped me gain real life experience; things you don’t learn from a text book. I began working at thirteen, doing accounting for a small business. Also at thirteen, my poetry was published in a chapbook. By sixteen, I bought my own car (and paid for the insurance and gas myself). At seventeen, I was living in Europe alone training in art. By twenty, I was a curator at a gallery in England. Contrary to popular belief, parents don’t coddle their homeschooled children. Rather, they are quick to adopt self-sufficient behaviors.
Homeschooled children aren’t sheltered. They are rooted. Children are grounded by parents instead of being influenced by strangers and peers. You firmly established your children in your family’s values going out into the real world.
My Child Will Fall Behind Public School Kids
Part of homeschooling is doing away with the boundaries enforced by the standardization of public schooling. Your child will flourish beyond the boundaries of grade levels, which is a product of public school education. That’s because homeschooling is more mastery-focused than grade-focused. You move on when you master something, not when the school year is over.
When I entered college, I found it shocking how many young adults didn’t know basic geography. Shockingly, they couldn’t tell me why we entered World War I or with whom we fought. (Kaiser Wilhelm who?) Most had never read classic literature. In fact, most couldn’t even name the seven parts of speech. It was shocking. For all they are taught, few understand (or remember) the fundamentals.
My own mother-in-law said they no longer assign book reports in her 8th grade class because kids get the book synopsis online. A cashier clerk I met (earning her masters degree) couldn’t compose a letter or use a postage stamp. We have high school graduates who can’t read cursive. Also, in a recent study 32 million American adults are currently illiterate despite the last few generations having access to compulsory taxpayer-funded public school. Nineteen percent of high school graduates are functionally illiterate. Homeschoolers score 15-30% higher on standardized academic achievement tests.
Homeschooling Is Expensive
I’ve also heard claims that homeschooling is for the rich and conversely that homeschooling is for the poor. It’s clear, many people just have no idea what homeschooling costs are. Parents choose how much or little they spend on curriculum. Homeschoolers spend an average of $600 per child annually. It is still much cheaper than charter or private schools. There are lots of options for used curriculum. If you have multiple children, you will most likely be using it more than once. Also, if your child is kindergarten or younger, there is a lot of free curriculum available. Many states even offer public school at home, online.
Homeschooled Children Are Abused
Give me a break. I’ve actually heard this more than once. There might be odd cases where unfit parents hide behind homeschooling to keep their children hidden and abused, but those are extremely rare cases. In most instances, the 2.3 million homeschoolers come from loving homes seeking the best for their children.
I Can’t Work and Homeschool
Not true! I know a lot of homeschooling parents that work from home virtually and homeschool. In fact, I know a doctor who works part time at a clinic and homeschools her kids when she’s home from work. These days, there are lots of ways to do it. For example, depending on your state, you can even have someone else do it. For instance, in Texas, you can homeschool up to five children (yours or others) before the state requires you to have a day care certification. Some parents work different shifts so they can homeschool in shifts.
Also many parents work a 40-hour week and homeschool for 20 hours a week. Did I mention that schooling goes by a lot faster when you only have a couple of kids to teach instead of classroom of 30? Remember, with homeschooling, you aren’t locked into specific hours, days, or even the time of year. Homeschooling allows for maximum flexibility.
My Child Won’t Do Well In College
Nonsense. These days, colleges are recruiting homeschoolers at the highest rate ever. They are desirable because homeschoolers are typically highly motivated and independent learners. They also typically outperform their publicly-schooled peers. In a recent Huffington Post article, homeschoolers graduate college at a higher rate and earn higher GPAs.
Homeschooling is Only For Religious Families
Not true! These days there are a growing number of secular families joining the homeschooling circle. There are lots of secular parents who are displeased with the educational and social problems of public schooling. Like faith-based homeschooling, there are lots of curriculum and support circles that don’t incorporate religion.
Homeschoolers Just Play All Day
Part of this myth stems from the fact that homeschooling kids are out and about during the day. Others just simply don’t think homeschooling is serious learning. Both assumptions are wrong. Homeschoolers have the flexibility to leave during the day and continue studies later, but everything is also a learning opportunity. Grocery shopping becomes a real life math application. For example, have your child figure out how much the 30% sale is or have them perform mental math as you fill the cart. Most homeschooling parents take every opportunity to teach life skills and incorporate learning into everyday situations. Conversely, at a young age, play is healthy and necessary for cerebral development. Homeschooling allows parents to balance play and studies as suited for each child.
Homeschooling Is Just For White Families
At one time, this may have been relatively true. However, over the last decade or so, minorities (like myself) have been taking back control of their child’s education. In fact, homeschooling by minorities is surging. Blacks in particular turn to homeschooling to protect their kids from the low expectations towards their race, especially for young black boys. For minorities, homeschooling is often sought to level the playing field and thereby providing every advantage to their children.
If you are considering homeschooling, I hope I have helped dispel some misinformation. Debunking myths about homeschooling is very important because I think a lot of interested parents, don’t pursue it because of misconceptions. Understand there are pros and cons to both systems. This post isn’t meant to be snippy or condescending. Ultimately, it’s a personal choice for each family.
On my blog here, I provide lots of homeschooling resources, so before you leave, please take a moment and subscribe.
Today I’m showing you how to make this delicious pie-tart crossover. If you’re a decadent chocolate lover, you’re gonna love these mini chocolate fudge tarts.
Welcome, friend! I hope you’re enjoying some of my chocolate themed recipes. The first time I ever had chocolate tarts was in France. Oh my Lord, do the French know how to do desserts. I’ve had many varieties of chocolate pies and chocolate tarts throughout the years. I’m always in the market for a new or different recipe. Today, I’m sharing my recipe for mini chocolate fudge tarts.
Personally, I love making these for dinner parties. They seem really fancy, because tarts sound fancy. But honestly these are very easy to whip up. I love them because I can keep the frozen tarts in the freezer and if I’m called to make a dessert to take somewhere I almost always have the ingredients I need sitting in my pantry.
If y’all have followed my recipes in the past, y’all know I’m a sucker for dark chocolate. I know. I hear some of you out there going, “ewww!” Hear me out. I prefer using semi-sweet or dark chocolate because you can control how sweet you make it by adjusting the sugar you add. If you want it sweeter, you can add more sugar, but the secret to really rich chocolate desserts is by starting with dark chocolate.
As I’ve mentioned in previous recipes, you want to use a good quality dark chocolate like Ghirardelli, but there is certainly nothing wrong with using Nestle Toll House morsels of whatever you have on hand. Chocolate should always be melted in a double broiler. A double broiler is just one pot stacked inside another. The bottom pot holds water. This allows chocolate, butter and other sensitive ingredients to melt slowly and reduces the risk of scorching. They sell double broilers in stores, but you can just as easily make your own using nested pots.
Also, if you want, you could also make your own tart shell. I have some great pastry and tart shell recipes, but for this recipe which calls for mini shells, I typically use frozen ones. It cuts a lot of time and expense out.
Serving and Storing Mini Chocolate Fudge Tarts
If you want to keep these tarts extra fresh, I recommended storing in the fridge or a cool, dry place. Chocolate and heat don’t do well together.
When you are ready to serve, I recommend them being at room temperature. There are lots of ways you can serve these tarts.
Sprinkle confectioner’s sugar
Caramel drizzle & sea salt
I kept it simple for the purpose of taking photos. I wanted you to be able to see the tarts themselves, but you can dress these tarts up with any garnish you want.