How To Make a 72 Hour Bug Out Bag

Be prepared for natural disasters and emergencies. Learn how to make a 72 hour bug out bag.

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

Medical Supplies

  • First aid kit
  • Mini Bottles of Alcohol (high proof)
  • Anti-bac
  • Sunscreen
  • Insect repellent

Food & Hydration

  • Collapsible Camp stove
  • Fuel Tablets
  • Dehydrated / non-perishable food for 72 hours (per person)
  • Water
  • Collapsible cup
  • Water purification tablets
  • Fishing line and hook

Shelter

  • Tarp
  • Zip ties
  • Emergency Mylar blankets
  • Paracord
  • Twine or rope
  • Emergency rain poncho
  • Bungee cords

Heat Sources / Other

  • Flashlight
  • Latex gloves
  • Clothes pins
  • Laundry soap (Fels Naptha)
  • Compass
  • Hand/foot warmers
  • Dust mask (N95)
  • Tissue or toilet paper
  • Playing cards (to pass the time)
  • Candles
  • Knife
  • Scissors
  • Signal mirror
  • Flint fire starter
  • Glow sticks
  • Duct tape
  • Work gloves
  • Mini sewing kit
  • Travel size toothpaste
  • Whistle
  • Waterproof matches

Here is a look inside a few things that are in my bag.

72 hour bug out back
72 hour bug out 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.

Storage

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.

Water Storage

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:

For your bug out bag (portable) things like the Lifestraw or long term water pouches.

food storage

Food Storage

I recommend buying your emergency food from places like Auguson Farms, My Patriot Supply, Legacy Food Storage, Wise Food Storage. Most of the foods are designed for 20-30 year storage, light in weight and only require water to hydrate and cook.

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!

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12 Tips For Happy Planner Newbies

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

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.”

Start Slowly

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.

Decorating on a Budget

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.

Washi tape
Photo by Mary Lentz

Decorating Ahead

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.

Wellness planner

Dashboards

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.

New Releases

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.

Planner spread

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:

Follow Me on Instagram

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Easy Cheap Date Nights At Home

Date nights can be hard to come by, especially when you have kids and are on a budget. Here are easy cheap date nights at home!

Hey there, girl! I know how tough it is to get date nights! When I was first married it was so easy to have a date night. But once kids got here, finding time for a date night was super hard. I mean just getting the kids in bed and sleeping at the same time requires all the stars and planets to align. I get it!

My hubby and I don’t have a babysitter or family that babysit regularly. Therefore, we gotta get pretty creative when it comes to date nights. Date nights at home are totally doable when you have kids. I’ve found it’s much better than doing nothing at all! We’ve actually had some pretty fun nights at home. I thought I would share some easy cheap date nights at home that have helped us keep the embers burning, stay connected and have fun together!

Puzzle Night

I know what you’re thinking. This is boring, but my husband and I actually end up loving this. Its low-key and is actually a nice way to relax together. We talk and connect while we do it. Maybe it’s because puzzles require to you to work together towards a goal. You can always put on some music and pour a few drinks. During the winter, I make a steaming pot of hot chocolate and we do it fireside. There are lots of ways to make this special. Puzzles are relatively cheap and you can do them again and again.

Dessert Flight

Okay, who doesn’t love desserts? This is a simple date night and you don’t actually have to do any cooking. Go to a bakery or visit the bakery at your local grocery store. Ours has some really nice single cheesecake, cupcake and cake servings. Pick up a few pieces and once the kids are in bed, light some candles, put a pretty tablecloth on the table and set out a dessert tasting. You can make a special pot of amaretto or Irish creme coffee and you can always use decaf coffee if you are worried about it keeping you up at night!

Courtesy of Unsplash

The Not So Newly Wed Game

For this game, come up with 20 or 30 questions that can be posed to both of you. Get creative! The best questions are ones you don’t really know the answer to or have never discussed before. Then take some time and answer the questions as you think your spouse would answer them. Your spouse does the same for you. Then go back through the answers and see how right you were.

Themed Date Night

After my first son was born, I did a themed at home date night once a month. So instead of just plopping in front of the TV, I tried to make it special by having a recurring theme. For one year, we “visited a country around the world. Example: One month was Ireland. I fixed Irish coddle and soda bread for dinner and we watched Michael Collins. Next was Egypt. I found some Egyptian recipes on Pinterest and we watched The Mummy. Another month, I made some homemade pasta and The Godfather. You get the idea. We found that by creating a theme night, it made made the run-of-the-mill tv night much more fun.

Board Game Night

I know you’ve heard this one before. But game nights can be so much fun. These days, there are lots of two person board games. Here are some of my favorites:

  • Hive
  • Sherlock Holmes Consulting Detective
  • Claustrophobia
  • Pandemic
  • Ticket To Ride
  • Scrabble
  • Monopoly
  • Carcassonne
  • Code Names Duet

Or you can go the retro kid night and do a fun game like Operation, Jenga, Chess, Checkers, Guess Who or another games.

Fondue Night

This is one of our favorite things to do, but we love fondue night. We tend to do this more during the winter time. Fondue is easy to do. It’s just Swiss cheese, white wine, garlic, and lemon juice. Obviously you need a fondue pot, but you can find cheap ones on Amazon. We cut up dippers like shrimp, apples, salami, bread, tomatoes, and veggies. Then, yes….we do a chocolate fondue. In fact, you can always just do that once the kids are in bed. We do Chocolate and peanut butter, s’mores or sea salt caramel. There are lots of fun combinations.

Courtesy of Unsplash

Floor Picnic

This is kind of a spin off of the fondue night. But another fun way to change up dinner is to do a floor picnic. Comfy pillows, warm throw blankets, candles, and lots of yummy goodies. Did I mention wine? Wine is also good. You can do a full dinner or just keep dinner light with cheese, fresh fruit and simple pairings.

Mixology Lab

If you and your partner like cocktails, try trying your hand at mixing a few cocktails at home. Pinterest is full of all kinds of great recipes. If the weather is nice, go sip them on the patio and stargaze. Another take on this would be to create your own wine or beer flights. But this can get pricey. I recommend planning around what you already have in your cupboards to save cash.

Spa Night & Couples Massage

Everybody needs a little TLC. So why not, include your partner? Turn on some candles, put on some relaxing music (yeah, that’s right – slow jams) and give each other a spa treatment. Take a shower together and take turns giving each other a tantalizing massage. Touch is a powerful way to promote intimacy. Use essential oils to add some aromatherapy into the mix.

Well, I hope I’ve given you some ideas for some easy cheap date nights at home. Just because you have kids doesn’t mean you have to wait for a babysitter. Sometime the best date nights are the ones that are at home and low key. Spending quality time together is all that really matters.

5 Things I Want For Mother’s Day

Sure perfumes and chocolate are great. But that isn’t actually what I want. Here are 5 things I want for Mother’s Day. FREE Printable Mother’s Day cards included.

5 things I want for mother's day

Mother’s Day is upon us. I love celebrating my own mother, my mother-in-law, and all the lovely mamas in my life. Presents are wonderful and there are always some things I’d love to have, but it got me thinking about what I really wanted. So here are 5 things I want on Mother’s Day.

5 Things I Want for Mother’s Day

To Go to the Bathroom By Myself

Every bathroom break is like a scene out of the Walking Dead. Hands are banging on the walls. Little fingers poke through the bottom of the door. I almost don’t remember what it’s like to go to the bathroom by myself anymore.

My one year old is in a stage where he loves to pull magazines out of the basket, remove trashcan contents and shred an entire roll of toilet paper in 30 seconds flat. Watching me referee from the porcelain pedestal is quite the scene.

To Eat While My Food is Still Hot

It dawned on me the other day that hot food still exists. It’s been about 4 years since my meals were hot on a regular basis. Every mom knows that you are constantly jumping up from the table to meet the needs of everyone’s last minute meal requests. “More ketchup. Salt please. Can I get more ice? I’m out of water. Is there anymore corn?” By the time I sit down I’ve lost the will to eat.

And if moms aren’t getting up, we spend the rest of our meal convincing little people to eat their food, take sensible bites, and try their vegetables. I used to enjoy meals, but honestly – it’s exhausting. So on Mother’s Day, I’d like some piping hot food please!

To Have Someone Cook For Me

Yes, I want to be taken out for dinner or brunch on Mother’s Day. Please give me a break from the serfdom that is meal making. Somedays, I feel like a human vending machine. I spend a great deal of my “work day” dispensing drinks and snacks to toddlers – who are never on the same hunger / eating schedule. Then there is the constant cleaning, wiping and picking up of counters. Most days, I feel like I never leave the kitchen. So yes, on Mother’s Day I want someone else to take over for a day…or a meal…whatever.

To Do Nothing

Yes, I want to shirk nearly all responsibilities on Mother’s Day. I don’t care how ridiculous, selfish, or lazy that sounds. I want to do as little as possible. The laundry, the dishes, the vacuuming can all take a back seat for the day. Honestly, I don’t want a bunch of plans on Mother’s Day – just let me chill and do nothing. Unless it’s crafts. I’m totally cool with doing crafts all day.

To Be With My Family

Yes, I still want to be with my family. I don’t want everyone scattering away. Yes, I’d like some alone time, or maybe more to the point – some down time. But I love my family and I want my babies and my husband around me, loving me, and hugging on me. I want a break from the responsibility, not the people.

Free Mother’s Day Cards

As a special gift to all you mama’s out there, I’m providing some FREE Mother’s Day cards for the mothers in your life. I recommend printing this on white card stock. Trim on the horizontal dark grey line. Fold on the light grey vertical line. Use an envelope suitable for a 4×6 card.

5 things I want for Mother's Day

To all the wonderful mamas out there, have a wonderful Mother’s Day! In the comments below, I’d love to hear what you want for Mother’s Day

Scripture Reading: When to Be Quiet

Not everything requires our comment or opinion. Let’s take a look at how the bible instructs us. Please join me for May’s scripture reading: When to be quiet.

scripture reading when to stay quiet

I have a major problem keeping my mouth shut. My mouth has placed me in trouble more times than I care to admit.

I overstep boundaries. I give my opinion where none is needed. I’ve been sanctimonious, arrogant, and rebellious. Cantankerous, venomous words have escaped my lips. I have a problem keeping my mouth shut. The truth is, most people struggle with this. We tend to think too highly of our own opinions.

This month, we’re going to take a look at scripture to guide us when to speak and when to bite our tongue.

Scripture Reading: When to be quiet

Never Quiet the Gospel

First, let’s take a moment and look at when the bible commands us to speak up. As Christians, we are called to bring darkness into light by spreading the Gospel.

To Defend Our Faith

“but sanctify Christ as Lord in your hearts, always being ready to make a defense to everyone who asks you to give an account for the hope that is in you, yet with gentleness and reverence; and keep a good conscience so that in the thing in which you are slandered, those who revile your good behavior in Christ will be put to shame.” – 1 Peter 3:15-16

To Proclaim the Gospel

“For I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God that brings salvation to everyone who believes: first to the Jew, then to the Gentile.” – Romans 1:16

To Lovingly Correct Other Christians

“Dear brothers and sisters, if another believer is overcome by some sin, you who are godly should gently and humbly help that person back onto the right path. And be careful not to fall into the same temptation yourself.” – Galatians 6:1 

To Repair a Hurt or Disagreement

“If another believer sins against you, go privately and point out the offense. If the other person listens and confesses it, you have won that person back. -Matthew 18:15

For Praise & Thanksgiving

“By him therefore let us offer the sacrifice of praise to God continually, that is, the fruit of [our] lips giving thanks to his name.” – Hebrews 13:15

To Expose Darkness Including Apostasy

“Do not participate in the unfruitful deeds of darkness, but instead even expose them;” – Ephesians 5:8

To Confess

“That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved.” – Romans 10:9

The bible

How To Speak Up

When we are instructed to speak up, it should always be with love. This includes any admonishment. Once corrected, we should be quick to extend the mercy of God.

“Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will grow to become in every respect the mature body of him who is the head, that is, Christ.”

Ephesians 4:!5

Scripture Reading: When to Stay Quiet

Thank you for joining me this month for Scripture Reading: When to Be Quiet. I know correction isn’t always easy to hear, but it’s important in our walk with Christ. Please and take a moment and read some of my other Scripture Readings like Depression & Grief.In the comments below, I’d love to hear how I can pray for you.

The Next Chapter

Onto the Next Chapter

I’m back! I took a few days off from blogging to accompany my husband to Houston. He had another job interview there. We are praying we get it! It’s funny. Six months ago, I would have never entertained the idea of moving, but with so few job options here in San Antonio for an oil & gas based engineer, you have to go with the jobs are.

It’s strange. Our job was so secure. It’s a big lesson in how nothing is truly secure and the rug can be pulled out from under you at any minute. If anything this whole lesson has made me thankful. It’s hard to believe we will be losing a job, but in 14 weeks we become officially jobless. It’s scary. Especially when you have two babies and a sizable mortgage.

the next chapterLast month, we interviewed for another position. It was an amazing opportunity and it seemed like everything was falling into place. The interview seemed to go well. I mean, we were so confident, we didn’t even consider not getting the job. That’s how assured we felt. Well…we didn’t get the job and we’ve been trying to pick ourselves up by our bootstraps. It’s not as easy as I thought.

Ultimately, I gave it to God. I don’t know why it didn’t work out. I don’t understand what He’s doing with our future. But I do know that He is a good God and He has better plans for us than we could ever imagine. So, I’m giving God the ashes – the broken pieces, the remains. I believe that He will restore us and bring us out of this pit.

Time Away

Since my husband was interviewing for another job in Houston, we decided to turn it into a short family vacation. It was just a few days, but I think we needed some together time. It helps to step away from the worry and stress, even if it’s just for a weekend.

But this weekend marks a very special anniversary. You see, seven years ago, my husband and I started our whirlwind romance. I went down to seem him in Houston and we had a lovely date that basically lasted all weekend. We went to Moody Gardens, Kemah Boardwalk, and The Houston Museum of Natural History. Before we had kids, we would go back and relive our first date. As kids came, that became much harder. It was definitely different with kids in tow! For example, you can only really do one thing a day.

The Houston Museum of Natural Science

The Houston Museum of Natural History is one of our favorite museums. It has an IMAX theater, planetarium and collection of mollusks. Some of it’s permanent exhibits are amazing. There is a huge Hall of Paleontology featuring the evolution of early man and of course…dinosaurs! This is a must-see stop for any child. HMNS has a working Foucault pendulum that is over 60 feet long.

On the first floor, there is also a stunning collection of over 750 gems and minerals.  Let me tell you a secret – when Dan and I were there on our first date, we suddenly found ourselves alone in the Gem vault. There was only us and Cole Porter singing Night and Day. It would eventually become “our song.” The lyrics are even inscribed on my engagement ring. But that moment was our first dance and it was the first moment when I knew I’d found my husband. Magic doesn’t even come close to describing the moment.

dinosaur houston museum of natural science

The Hall of Ancient Egypt is amazing and of course, it’s complete with mummies, cartouches, and sarcophaguses (or is it sarcophagi?) On the lower level is a Chemistry Hall dedicated to the periodic table of elements and related subjects. There is also an Energy Hall. Houston is the perfect place to showcase how oil is sourced and how it is refined into many other products. In fact, there is one section dedicated solely to the Eagle Ford Shale asset which is where my husband currently works as an engineering manager.

Moody Gardens

Moody Gardens is a little gem in Galveston. Galveston is a coastal city about 45 minutes south of Houston. Moody Gardens is an educational tourist destination. It has a golf course, hotel and there is Schlitterbahn water park located on the premises. There is also nature conservatories including an aquarium and rainforest pyramid. They also have a 4D theater. The discovery pyramid has an amusement ride. There are also zip lines for the adventurer.

 

moody gardens

 

dan    Mary

Jack was so excited to see the penguins at the aquarium. He kept calling them Peso. Thanks Octonauts!

 

 Around the Bay

In between we spent the remainder of our time around the bay area (Kemah, Clear Lake, Friendswood, and League City). I swear, we ate too much rich food. We ate so much that I was ready for a salad when we got home. I just wanted veggies! Cheesecake Factory, Yardhouse. So much has changed around Baybrook Mall. This was Dan’s old neighborhood. It’s changed so much in seven years.

Alas, we made it home in time for Easter Sunday, but we were so exhausted. Traveling with two kids under the age of three isn’t for wimps!

 

yardhouse

 

dan and tristan

Onto the next chapter…

10 Things You Dont Know About Me

I’ve shared some deeply personal things on My Beautiful Mess. I’ve opened up about my bipolar illness, postpartum depression, even our journey with my son’s clubfoot. However, I thought it would be great for my readers to learn more about me. People that know me well, probably know these facts already. But for those who don’t, I’m going to share 10 things you don’t know about me.

1. I Was On TV

About a decade ago, I was working part time as an actress and model. I did some local theater and some low budget movies from local filmmakers. However, for a few years I worked as a specialty extra for NBC’s Friday Night Lights. If you squint really hard, you might see an out of focus side line reporter at one of the overnight football games – that was me. I was also an extra in NBA player Tony Parker’s music video Balance Toi. I did some commercials and some local modeling. It sounds glamorous, but it isn’t. It’s lots of standing around and repetition. It was fun though. I met some great people and made some extra cash.

Mary Lentz

2. I Was Married Before

This is harder to write about than I thought. I was married briefly in my early 20’s. I had met him in England and lived abroad for a number of years. We married on my 20th birthday (forever changing how I feel about my birthday). Looking back, I feel fairly certain he never really loved me. The relationship felt very one-sided. Ultimately, the marriage ended when he had an affair with another married woman. It was incredibly painful and it took me nearly a decade to recover from the rejection and hurt. Today, I’m married to a man so good, it feels like a fairytale. At the time, I felt like my life had ended. If only I knew the amazing man that was waiting for me ten years later.

3. I’m an Accomplished Artist

When I was living in Europe, I was a artist-in-residence. I worked as a full-time artist, curated works within the gallery and experimented in many different mediums. I had previously shown my work at galleries. In fact, at the age of 13, a figurative cubist piece I did was prominently displayed in an Indiana library. My favorite genres are cubism (both figurative and abstract), expressionism, and colorist work. I prefer working in oils or mixed media. But I’ve worked in just about every medium except for marble. These days, I sell things here on the blog and on my Etsy shop. It’s a great way to get out my artistic yearning. Your purchases help support the costs incurred with running this blog, so thank you!

4. I’ve Written For Years

Gee, where do I start? The first time I was published I was about 12 or 13. My poetry was published in a national chapbook of poetry. Over my teenage years, I wrote for lots of small media outlets and small press publications. In my twenties, I continued to write as a freelance writer and I was also the editor-in-chief of my own magazine, SWAG (Southwest Actors Guild). I started this blog when I first got married, but never really took it seriously. I can’t tell you how much I regret that decision. When I think of where I could be today if I had just kept going, I could slap myself. Take a lesson from my life – don’t wait for tomorrow.

5. I’m a Perfectionist

Hi, I’m Mary and I’m a perfectionist! It’s true. I have a deeply rooted problem with perfectionism. Perfectionism is a sign that you are out of control on this inside, so therefore you have the need to control external circumstances. However, perfectionism and control are just an illusion. The truth is, no one is ever in control. I have a bad habit of getting my self worth from accomplishments. As a second child, I always felt overshadowed by my older brother. In fact, as a child, I only remember receiving positive attention when I had accomplished something good. I became addicted to praise. I needed it in order to feel loved. The bad part is that we can start applying perfectionism to other people. I’m working on my perfectionism. I’ve not arrived, but I’m a work in progress.

6. I Love Horror

It’s true. Now, this isn’t to be confused with a love of the occult. I’m opposed to that. However, I do love a good horror movie for fun, in particular ghosts and supernatural stuff. But I also love some good zombie flicks. I know, I’m weird. But I get weirder. I also love true crime. I love to watch Investigation Discovery channel. You can keep your CSI shows! I love watching true crime shows. Everyone knows about my love for Joe Kenda! My husband affectionately calls it “Murder Porn” because most of the shows are about murder and it’s so addictive to watch. I know, it’s terrible. Don’t care.

7. I’m Obsessed With Happy Planner

I don’t care how ridiculous it sounds, but I have an obsession with Happy Planner ®. If you haven’t heard about how much I love it, you need to read the post, How Happy Planner Changed My Life. You might say I’m addicted. I’m embarrassed to say this isn’t even my whole stash. I use one to run this blog, one for fitness / wellness. I have one I use as my regular daily planner and teacher planner for my homeschooling. I don’t always have time for artwork, so being able to decorate my planners, really helps get out my desire to be artistic.

Happy Planner

8. I Once Lost 183 Pounds

Early in my 20’s I was over 300 pounds. After my first husband left me, I was determined to get the weight off. I did Weight Watchers and it took me 18 months to get from 325 to 140 lbs. I kept it off for eight years without gaining. But I started to regain weight after 2014. I’m embarrassed to say that I’ve regained a lot of the weight back. In fact, I feel a lot of judgement from people because of it. I’m utterly disappointed in myself and for the last few years I have felt completely defeated by it. But since I did it once, I remind myself I can do it again.

9. I Was Born With My Hip Dislocated

As strange as that sounds, it it’s true. When I was born my hip was out of the socket. So for the first year of my life I wore a harness. My parents jokingly called it my “parachute” because that is what it looked like. It was a fabric brace that held up my leg into the socket and was leveraged by shoulder straps, hence the parachute look. It didn’t stop me from walking or crawling. I was walking by the age of one. But the really odd thing is that it is hereditary. My dad was also born with his hip dislocated! True story.

10. I Was An Insurance Professional

I worked for 15 years in the insurance industry. I held a variety of jobs within the same insurance company. However, I worked the longest as a property adjuster. Obviously, people close to me know this. But I handled large property claims like fire and water damage. It was a very demanding job. It had long hours, coupled almost impossible deadlines. Additionally, the job was naturally combative and argumentative. Hurting people lash out and hate insurance companies. The job was so stressful at one point, I had a full-on nervous breakdown. They called me the human dumpster because I would fix the awful claims that had gone sideways. I was planning to quit after giving birth. But a manager insisted I work a fire while I was pregnant, so I ended up quitting before I expected. Let me tell you, I don’t miss that job one bit.

Your Story

Someone once told me, “your life sounds so exciting, it makes mine feel boring.” I was never sure how to answer something like that. First, it’s a compliment wrapped in an insult. I don’t see my life as exciting. I’ve just decided to try passions of mine and see if it leads to something.

Let’s be clear. No one’s life is boring. Life is full of ups and downs. Sometimes you are up and other days you are down and out. The truth is my life has been filled with depression, suicide attempts and hardship. Everyone’s life is a unique story and one that deserves to be told.

Never compare your life to someone else’s. We’re all on our own path, trying to do our best and figure out life. Jealousy is hatred and love at the same time. Don’t worry about people who aren’t happy with you. They likely aren’t happy with themselves either. Go out and be the person you were made to be!

In the comments below, I’d love to hear an interesting fact about your life.


How to Choose Job Interview Accessories

Please give a warm welcome to guest blogger Julia Alex Markle. In this post, she shares how to choose job interview accessories. If you’re a working mama or a stay-at-home mom reentering the workforce, I know these tips will help you! Please follow Julia on Twitter and on her website.

How to choose job interview accessories

Stats say that 65% of hiring managers choose the better dressed one between two competitive candidates. So, you know that your dress can make or break an opportunity for you. But how to decide which factors you should consider when dressing for a job interview? Tiffany Yannetta, who is the shopping director at Racked, says you should appear professional, fresh, and be comfortable.

Professional outfits

“You want to look professional,” she says and points out how, for women, it can be a little more challenging to decide what to wear. You should look serious about the interview and it should be clear that you have put an effort to dress too. Since your appearance will speak for you before your mouth does, be sure to make no mistakes here.

Since your appearance will speak for you before your mouth does, be sure to make no mistakes here.

How to ace a job interview

Job interviews can be overwhelmingly intimidating. You may find yourself overly anxious right before the interview and a wee bit too conscious during the interview. However, don’t let the nervousness trickling down your back make a home in your mind. The Muse recommends telling yourself you are excited rather than forcefully calming yourself.

The website also suggests you surround yourself with positivity and stop being overly self-critical. Apart from doing a good amount of research and prepping yourself up for the questions, put forward your most confident self in the battleground. Be there on time, be polite, and be smart. Maintain eye contact and ask your questions too. Oh and of course, don’t forget to dress the part.

Here’s how you can get ready for the job interview

What you wear depends on where you’re going. This is why it is essential to know about the dress code and environment of an office beforehand. A marketing company may require you to keep your look crisp and clean while a software house may not mind a laidback style. It all depends on whether the environment is business casual, business formal, worker or casual. Some tips that apply regardless of which environment the office has:

Candidates
  •  Less is more
  • Avoid being too loud with your outfit choices
  • Don’t expose too much skin

Typically, most offices require you to stick to formal style. So, let’s cut to the chase and discuss the main points of what you should wear for a job interview keeping that in mind.

1 – Dress

When it comes to what outfit you should wear to the interview, be sure you choose colors that are not too bold or popping. As per a survey, the best colors to wear to a job interview are blue and black. Orange, yellow, red, shocking pink and other similar hues are best avoided. You can also pick white and camel color. If the dress code is formal, go for a pencil skirt with a button-down tee.  Wearing slacks with a plain fitted shirt and a blazer on top is another good option.

Dress

2 – Handbag

The first rule that you should follow with the handbag that you can carry when headed to a job interview is that the bag should fit all your essentials. Don’t take a bag that is too sparkly or small. Avoid trendy handbags and stick to satchels and totes. Go for colors like nude, beige, brown, grey and black. Pastel hues such as powder blue and baby pink may also work depending on what you are wearing. Avoid clutches and cross body bags.

Handbag

3 – Shoes

Coming to what shoes you should wear, go for close-toed sandals that do not have very high heels. Never wear flip-flops for an interview and avoid platform shoes or very high heels too. In this regard, kitten heels are an appropriate choice. Slip-in pumps will also work well. Go for neutral colors, again nothing too flashy. Avoid shoes with straps or laces and give slip-on heels a preference. Make sure there is not even a slight trace of a design in the form of embroidery, a bow, etc. on your sandals.

Shoes

4 – Fragrance

Several people find themselves torn between whether or not they should wear perfume to a job interview. The answer is pretty simple – do not spray on a strong fragrance that annoys the other person. In some cases, there are policies that offices have stating that people should not wear fragrances. Be careful about that beforehand since several people are allergic to certain scents. Either don’t wear a fragrance but if you decide to wear one, go for a subtle scent.

Perfume

5 – Jewelry

Have you ever seen an employee wearing too much jewelry? We bet no. Therefore, don’t wear too many rings or bracelets. Just your wedding band and a watch will do. Keep in mind simple is sophisticated. Don’t wear dangling earrings or any ostentatious neck pieces, etc. Just wear small studs in your ears. Also, make sure the little jewelry you wear appears to be of high quality. Cheap jewels never leave a good impact. Lastly, don’t expose your tattoos.

Interview accessories

Things not to wear to a job interview

Wearing the wrong things is even worse than not wearing the right things. This is why it is essential to plan and prepare beforehand. To clarify matters more, let’s also jump into what you shouldn’t at all wear to a job interview:

  • Don’t wear something that makes you stand out but also doesn’t look boring
  • Strictly refrain from glittery or sparkly accessories
  •  Don’t wear clothes that you are uncomfortable in
  • Don’t wear clothes that not neat or smell of sweat or strong detergent
  • Don’t wear shorts or low-cut necklines
  •  Don’t wear low-rise pants. Your underwear must not be visible

Key takeaway

When headed for a job interview, appear serious and look professional. Don’t over-expose, keep it simple, wearing nothing too loud, and go for safe, solid and neutral colors. Appear classy but not so much so that you look over-confident. Be sure to be confident, though. Above all, know what the environment of the company is and if it has any set dress code in place. 

Author Bio: Julia is a self-motivated, having team player qualities with excellent communication and marketing skills and is self-employed from the past few years. Having vast experience in the field of marketing & Blogging.

The post, How To Choose Job Interview Accessories, first appeared on My Beautiful Mess.


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White Chocolate Raspberry Muffins

Raspberry White Chocolate Muffins

Raspberries and white chocolate are the two delicious main ingredients in these simple scratch muffin recipe.
Prep Time30 mins
Cook Time20 mins
Course: Breakfast
Cuisine: American
Keyword: breakfast, easy breakfast, easy desserts, easy recipe, fruit muffin, muffin, muffin recipe, pastry, raspberry, white chocolate
Servings: 12

Equipment

  • muffin tin
  • Mixing Bowl
  • Spatula

Ingredients

  • 1 Lrg Egg
  • 2 Cups Flour
  • ¾ Cup White Chocolate Chips
  • 1 Tbsp Vanilla Extract
  • 1 Tbsp Baking Powder
  • 5 Tbsp Butter Softened
  • 1 Cup Milk
  • 1 Cup Fresh or Frozen Raspberries

Instructions

  • Preheat oven to 400°
  • In a stand mixer, add egg and beat slightly
  • Add vanilla, softened butter, sugar, and cream on low until combined
  • Add milk
  • Slowly add flour and baking powder a little at a time. Mix only enough to combine ingredients.
  • Take bowl off mixer and add raspberries and white chocolate. Gently fold into batter
  • Spoon mixture into greased muffin tin or paper liners in tin.
  • Bake for 18-20 minutes or until tops are fully risen and golden brown.
  • Check for doneness by inserting a toothpick in the center. Toothpick should come out clean.