Sunday, August 28, 2011

We're Good!

We were very blessed and have come through the storm unscathed. We fell asleep to the wind and rain beating our house (which strangely reminded me of the winter time...) and woke up to more rain and wind, but less of it and also someone else's aluminum siding in our yard. We did not lose electricity and our basement stayed nice and dry. Yay! We were on the outer edge and so it wasn't nearly as bad as it was for those along the coast.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Preparation: It Doesn't Happen Overnight

For us here in Maryland, Hurricane Irene won't hit until late Saturday evening. Today I went to the store to see if I could maybe get some extra butane fuel for our camp stove and some more D flashlight batteries and some extra C batteries for our radio (even though we have a solar-powered/hand cranked radio too.) I'm sure you've all heard or experienced what happens to stores when people are forewarned about an impending disaster. That's right. All the D and almost all the C batteries were gone and the camping shelves were almost completely bare. We swung by Costco and even though they had just barely opened, the place was swamped and the gas station had a 15-20 minute wait! Wow.

So, you've probably guessed that I did not get my D batteries or extra butane fuel. And that's ok. Usually I'm pretty paranoid and anxious, but with our current preparations that we've done over time (however imperfect they are), I feel at peace that we'll be alright. (Unless our windows get busted...) We are actually on the outside edge of the hurricane's fury and are, so far, told to expect winds of 30-50 mph and 8-12" of rain. I am really feeling it for those coastal people who have it much, much worse. My biggest worry for us is the electricity going out because we have nothing to power our sump pump to keep water out of our basement if we have no electricity. It's difficult being in a rental and having a generator (expensive!) and keeping the fuel on hand somewhere to run it. Not to mention the fear of someone stealing it... Like I said, I can be a little paranoid.

Overall, though, preparing for this storm has been an interesting experience thus far. It's been an emotional test for myself, the worrier, and I really am amazed at the peace that I have while so many people have fear and are running to the stores to stock up on anything and everything - a financial burden all at once, to be sure.

To use a Biblical example: Noah did not build the ark in one day. He didn't start to build when the rains had started and the fountains of the earth had burst forth. He prepared for quite some time before hand. Emergency preparedness today is no different. It really can't happen overnight. It can't. Even if you have a chunk of disposable money, there are physical skills and tools needed to exist for a few days to even weeks on your own without water or electricity or access to grocery stores. Those are skills and supplies that need to be practiced and built up before a storm. Also, in the face of a storm, it is hard to think clearly, especially at the store when so many others around you have an energy of fear and panic. And stores only have so many resources before they run out. Building up skills and emergency kits for your home, car, or evacuation as you go along through life will bring that peace of mind for disaster - expected or not. That way you can be sitting at home sipping hot cocoa with your kids instead of frantically filling your shopping cart, hoping that you're not forgetting something, or regretting that others got there first and took it all.

A little solemn and dramatic, perhaps? Well, there is a hurricane raging on the eastern coast currently and there are people whose lives have been drastically changed already. Let's keep them in our thoughts and prayers.  And I sincerely hope that we can all be prepared the best that we are able for whatever lies ahead. (Myself included!)

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Triple Whammy

So, we had no water from a water main break over a week ago, we had that earthquake hit, and now we've got a hurricane on it's way! I feel very lucky that the water main break was a minor blip in our lives. The earthquake I totally missed because we were driving back from picking peaches at Larriland Farms and our house was as we left it. Funny, huh!? But a great blessing that it wasn't worse. And there doesn't seem to be much worry about the hurricane from people I've talked to because of how far inland we are, but I'm more suspicious. Okay, so NO I've never been in a hurricane myself. I've only ever experienced the rain bands off a hurricane. You get that even in the midwest. But I think it's better to be prepared and wary than brushing the whole hurricane off as a minor puff of wind and some light rain. Mother Nature is unpredictable, folks! You just never know.

So, another plug for getting yourself prepared! And I'm not some crazy kook either, believe it or not. You can just go to the websites of the Red Cross, FEMA, and to see that it's an empowering thing to be prepared. Our government agencies want us to take the responsibility to prepare ourselves so that they're relief burden can be less. It's understandable. The more people that are prepared and are able to help themselves, the more the agencies can accomplish in the more severe areas.

Anyway... it's been interesting to see my 4-year-old son's reaction to the news about the hurricane. According to him, we'll be able to fend off the hurricane with our hose on full blast and we'll need to hold our car down with really strong tape so it won't blow away. Oh, and the paint on the car will blow away, so we'll have to paint it a different color - blue-green or green-blue (his favorite colors incidentally.) His logic is totally awesome.

Here are some cool preparedness things that make it easy to be prepared even if you live in a small place or are transient:

- MREs
- a volcano stove (you can burn propane, charcoal, wood or Fueled Up! in it. Cool!)
- Fueled  Up! emergency fuel. This stuff stores in a bucket for 30+ years, is safe to keep in your home and around food, and you can use it anywhere... well anywhere that's fire proof of course! It's perfect to use with a little portable barbeque grill.
- 2 liter bottles cleaned and filled with water. You can store these all over your house because they're so small - under sinks, under your bed, in a shed, etc. Just be sure to leave enough air space at the top to allow for freezing expansion if it's stored where it will freeze.

Wish us luck!

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Without Water

The past few days we've had a lot of rain. Well, last night there were two water main breaks within a mile of our house. We had super low water pressure all last night and then this morning, no water at all. So, the city must have shut off the water at some point.

You might be wondering why I'm not completely freaking out. I'm not too worried at all, because we have a lot of 2-liters of water stored in our basement and since we drink filtered water, we actually just got all our jugs refilled recently. Whew! But it will be an interesting test to see how many 2-liters we go through and how long what we have would realistically last. (Thank goodness the kids got baths last night, but the bad news is that today is laundry day! Yikes!)

This is just one example of why emergency preparedness is so important. It doesn't have to be a major weather disaster like a tornado or hurricane. It can be something so simple as a water main break and the city shutting off your water until it's repaired. Would you have enough water to drink or cook with, let alone wash with? And what about toilets? That's one thing I'm finding out about right now. Water conservation is definitely a skill I could learn more about!

We've been using our upstairs toilet without flushing (sorry, but I just had to mention it!) and I just dumped 4 liters of water in the tank without successfully flushing it. That is a huge waste of water! And I'm finding out that our toilet uses way too much water to flush to begin with - something I need to remedy. We do have an emergency toilet bucket with enzymes and I'm thinking that if water isn't restored by the afternoon, we're going to have to bust that baby out. Woo! How fun!

Another thing I'm realizing would be helpful is to have a stash of paper goods and plastic utensils. Even if those are things you don't normally use, when you need to conserve water for washing, it really helps to alleviate the stress of the situation to not have a sink full of dishes!

There are a couple ironies in our current situation too. Like I said before, we've had off and on torrential downpours for a few days. It would have been good to have a big plastic tub outside collecting the water, even if I had only been planning on using it for my plants (when they finally got a chance to dry out!)

Another irony is that I have a water barrel and a rain barrel that I need to pick up from a friend's house that I just bought from her. I could totally have washing/flushing water right now if I had had that rain barrel hooked up, dang it! It would no doubt be full from all the rain we've been getting.

So, what I'm saying now is to learn from my experience. Water storage is so important! Every time you buy some soda, clean out the bottle and fill it with tap water. Buy some water bottles or jugs in bulk for drinking. (And don't think, 'I'll just go to the store and get some water in an emergency' because everyone will be thinking the same thing. Water run!) Learn some water conservation skills just in case you need them. And, for goodness sakes, have another toilet option, because you just never know! Imagine the peace of mind you could have in a situation like this if you had your own back up plan of your own water source. You might even have neighbors knocking on your door begging for a drink of water. (I actually had this happen a few years ago back in Utah when a water main broke and our water was shut off for a day!)

Check out my "The Storm Cellar" tab at the top of this page to learn more about emergency preparedness and see how you can be a little more prepared for the unexpected!

Friday, August 12, 2011

Coconut Rainbow Muffins

The real name for this recipe is: Coconut-Cherry-Carrot-Zucchini Muffins. Quite a mouthful! But I changed the name because my favorite thing about these muffins is... it's like biting into a rainbow! Who wouldn't want to do that?!?

I love these muffins. They're soft and moist, even when they're a couple days old! You have to make these babies. Even just to be able to say you've eaten a rainbow. But if the leprechauns come chasing after you, don't blame me.

Coconut Rainbow Muffins

2 1/2 cups unbleached flour
1 cup sugar (you can use honey, just be sure to alter the baking soda and liquid measurements)
1 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. mace (or nutmeg... mace is expensivo!)
1/4 tsp. salt

3 beaten eggs
1/2 cup cooking oil (or 1/4 cup oil &1/4 cup applesauce for less fat)
1/2 cup milk (you may need a little more. it's kind of a stiff batter)

1 1/2 cups finely shredded carrots
1 1/3 cups flaked, unsweetened coconut
1/2 cup finely shredded zucchini (including peel for that pretty green color)
1/2 cup chopped, well-drained maraschino cherries

1. Preheat oven to 350ºF.
2. Grease 2 muffin tins with cooking spray.
3. Mix together dry ingredients in a medium bowl.
4. In a separate smaller bowl, combine the eggs, oil, and milk.
5. Add the wet to the dry ingredients and stir until well combined. Fold in the carrots, coconut, zucchini, and cherries. If the batter is too stiff, add a little more milk.
6. Distribute the batter evenly between the two muffin pans.
7. Bake for 18-20 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean. Remove the muffins from the cups and allow to cool on cooling racks. Enjoy for breakfast, snack, or any time!

Once completely cool, store and refrigerate the extra muffins in a sealed container. Makes 24.

Happy Rainbow Muffin!

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Much, Much Better!


Oh yeah! This is way better without the green squares, don't you think? I absolutely love it and I am so glad I ripped out those yucky green squares!

However, I was left with the problem of my blanket being too short on the sides. So, my solution was to use my extra cut quilt pieces to piece together a super sweet border. I think it really ties the blanket together. 

Ta da! It's not as long as our current blanket, but oh well! I think it turned out beautifully! Yay!

Now I'm working on quilting in the ditch around the white squares. I'm not sure what I'll do about quilting the border. I'm sure I'll figure something out. :-)

P.S. I asked my husband what he thought about it and he looked at me and said, "You're amazing." I laughed and said, "But what do you think about the quilt?" He looked at it and said, "It's interesting." Which is my husband's language for "The colors are too bright." Ha ha! Well, this is our spring quilt (thanks Holly for the seasonal quilt idea!), and I think we'll need a bit of cheering up after a long winter, don't you think? This quilt will be perfect for that! :-D
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