Thursday, August 25, 2011

Preparing for a Hurricane (& Stocking the Cocktail Cabinet)

With all the buzz about Hurricane Irene coming up the coast and SLAMMING us on Sunday, I've decided to get a jump start on preparing for it.  The news reports this morning are predicting we could be out of power for days.  (Wait...could this be the Apocalypse in the Suburbs I mentioned in a recent post?)

The National Hurricane Center says I should have certain items in my Disaster Supply Kit.

Check boxWater - at least 1 gallon daily per person for 3 to 7 days
Check boxFood - at least enough for 3 to 7 days— non-perishable packaged or canned food / juices— foods for infants or the elderly— snack foods— non-electric can opener— cooking tools / fuel— paper plates / plastic utensils
Check boxBlankets / Pillows, etc.
Check boxClothing - seasonal / rain gear/ sturdy shoes
Check boxFirst Aid Kit / Medicines / Prescription Drugs
Check boxSpecial Items - for babies and the elderly
Check boxToiletries / Hygiene items / Moisture wipes
Check boxFlashlight / Batteries
Check boxRadio - Battery operated and NOAA weather radio
Check boxTelephones - Fully charged cell phone with extra battery and a traditional (not cordless) telephone set
Check boxCash (with some small bills) and Credit Cards - Banks and ATMs may not be available for extended periods
Check boxKeys
Check boxToys, Books and Games
Check boxImportant documents - in a waterproof container or watertight resealable plastic bag— insurance, medical records, bank account numbers, Social Security card, etc.
Check boxTools - keep a set with you during the storm
Check boxVehicle fuel tanks filled
Check boxPet care items— proper identification / immunization records / medications— ample supply of food and water— a carrier or cage
— muzzle and leash
I'm making a modified list, including a refresher on how to manually work the oxygen tanks for Gram.

Other modifications/additions

Candles & matches or lanterns.

Cocktails ingredients.  I was only mildly kidding when I announced on Facebook that I would wait out the storm in the wine cellar.  It's full of cobwebs and scares me.  It's also where we hide the girl scout cookies.  Oh, see, we ARE prepared to survive in style - we have Samoas!!!  Samoas & wine!  So there's no need to make a trip to the grocery store or the fruit orchards after all.  (Just kidding.)

I am lucky to have 2 pantries in my kitchen- they're both in need of reorganizing.  Here's a peek at one of them:

Do you see what's conspicuously missing here besides the pasta & cereals?  (They're in the other pantry.)  Good chocolate.  Tuna fish in olive oil.  Juice.  Nutella.  I have a gallon of water or 2, but I'll pick up another few.

The good news is that I have a gas stove & and outdoor grill, so in the event that we do lose power, we can still cook.  If we find ourselves in that scenario, I have nearby family (& friends) who will probably be coming over to eat, and so the cocktails may be important after all!  Add pineapple juice, fresh limes, and cranberry juice to the list!

Other Preparations

If, like me, you're on well water, you'll want to fill up your tubs on Sunday for water to flush the toilets.  Trust me, you'll be glad you did.

Check propane tanks to see if they need to be filled.  (This would be super important in cooler weather as we have a propane furnace-rated fireplace that heats our family room.  During the last big winter power outage I had to sleep in front of it with 2 babies!)

Seeing as how they're bent on scaring us on the news with the threat of power outages, it may be time to eat some of the frozen things from the freezer.  I'm particularly excited about this since my freezer is full of ice cream, croissants, Indian food, and things like peas & waffles.  Again, since we'll be able to cook, I can hold off on some of these, but I may be baking the croissants.... and the ice cream....well we'll just address that potential issue today :)

Just had a brilliant idea.  Know what would be a perfect way to enjoy finishing off 5 ice cream containers?  (I call the chocolate gelato, btw.  My friend Victoria can have the soy mocha swirl.) them while watching the hurricane episode from Dawson's Creek!  Ha!

Then back to preparations.  It's also time to check on the garden and see if there is anything that can be harvested.  You don't want all that good food falling on the ground in your muddy garden come Monday after being whipped around at 80+ mph.  My raspberry bushes are just starting to ripen so we'll be picking those again on Sunday too.  I'll have tomatoes, beans, squash, cukes, grapes, and other random things to pick from my wild garden.

Take down any bird feeders or bird baths that might be in danger of hitting your house in a high wind, etc.

Pick up any debris or toys in the yard that might fly away.  That's on my list for today and we have a ton of toys outside.  Flower pots too.  They're going into the basement.   (Someone's grill cover has been in my backyard since the big storm we had this past winter and we can't figure out who it belongs to!)  It's going to rain at some point today too, so better we get started this morning.

Maybe I'll cover some of the firewood for our fire pit - or bring some into the basement in case we decide to have a campfire.  I'll ask the hubby if that's necessary.  I heard they're predicting a foot of rain here.  A foot.  My yard may be too wet - and muddy.

If you have a sump pump (we have 2) check to make sure they're plugged in so that while there is power we can deal with the water that may flood into basements.
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OK, so the real fear is that this thing will fly up, up & away...

...and land someplace else and squash a bad witch.  (FYI - Wicked is playing at the Bushnell in Hartford!)

Hopefully they will do a good job of shoring it up as it doesn't look like we'll race to get a roof on it.  I think it's better if the wind just goes right through it, right?  I just kind of wish we could cover the entire thing in a giant tarp.

I'm all set for reading materials (I have my next 2 books lined up on my nightstand) and we have a good collection of games to keep the kids busy.  Anyone want to stop by for a game of Disney Cranium?

So what other preparations are you planning?  What is on your grocery list?

On a serious note, I hope all of my friends from the Caribbean to Florida to the Carolinas and all points north are safe during this storm.  I know it can be scary, especially for the little ones - mine keep asking if it will be the same as when we were caught in a tornado.  Keep us all informed that you're ok via Facebook, Twitter, or drop a comment here.  

Thursday, August 18, 2011

CBS Connecticut's Most Valuable Blogger!

It is such an honor to be named a FINALIST for CBS Connecticut's Most Valuable Blogger Award!  Little bit exciting, right?  Ah, it's the little things that make me happy, n'est pas?

(Please vote for my blog!  A big thanks for doing so!)

Know what else makes me happy these days?  My carriage house project is FINALLY starting to take shape!  This was the progress as of yesterday (only the 2nd day of framing!)

Today they put down the floor for the 2nd fl.  Slowly, slowly the work continues...I can't wait for it to be closer to finished so we can talk about all the ways we're going to try to make it GREEN!

It's been a while since I shared an update on our 40 panel photovoltaic array.  The solar panels have been cranking out the electricity all summer!  Each month my electric bill has been all of $16 (even with the air conditioning & TV going in our in-law apartment several hours per day!)  We've been generating around 35 kWh per day of electricity, and it appears that since November we've generated 7750 kWh and saved over 13,000 lbs of CO2!!!  Seriously, how great is that? We're sending a lot of energy back into the grid.  Makes me want to go and hug my inverter :)

Heading out now to support my fellow Realtor's Broker's Open House for a property on Lake Pocotopaug - it's no Knowles Landing, but 71 Meek's Point isn't too shabby!  They're similarly priced, so if you're in the market in the $1.3M range, I'm happy to show you both of them :)

Monday, August 8, 2011

GREEN Summer Finds :)

Hi Blog Friends! It's been a while - we've been busy having our "Not Bummer Summer" (thanks Judy Moody for inspiring that!) and taking vacations and such.  Thought I'd catch up for a moment and share some of the great GREEN finds I've made in my travels.

Found this great little shop in Ogunquit, Maine last month that does personalizing, where they carried all these funny magnets and this one made me smile :)  I also picked one up that says YAY!  BEES! for one of my real estate clients (and friends!)  Speaking of real estate - man, it's been a hard summer.  Contracts that had previously going along swimmingly are drowning left and right over circumstances beyond my control.  It's really frustrating.  Even more frustrating is how difficult it has become for so many buyers to become homeowners.  I've said it before, but really it's creating a large demand for rentals in my market and they're so hard to come by.

On my way home from the Greater Hartford Association of Realtors Strategic Planning meeting I happened to drive by the Habitat for Humanity ReStore in Salem, CT.  They were unloading a truck and what did they happen to have coming in, but some cute square windows that might take the place of my oval decorative windows for the carriage house we're building.  The oval windows are $900 each and we needed 2.  The nice man at the ReStore sold me these 4 square windows for $10 each.  $10!  I took them on the spot.  They're not what I had originally planned, but I think we can still add enough character to make it work.  Looks like we can get a side door for around $25 too, but the double doors and the rest of the windows (seeing as how I'd like for them to match) will be ordered.  On the building front, we're still looking at just a foundation and the floor has been poured.  We hope to have framers starting this week, but it's just crickets out there today.  Well, crickets and the sound of my bank account being depleted.

We finally made it to the Chester Farmer's Market on Sunday morning.  Despite the pouring rain it was a great market, and there were many organic vendors, meat sellers, breads, fish, cheeses, other dairy like yogurts, honey, soaps, fresh flowers, jams, etc.  We walked away with the beautiful bouquet of flowers that Scott surprised me with at breakfast (the vendor delivered them right to our table in the Simon Marketplace - it's so darling you should stop there!) plus divine cheese, baguette, & saturn (or donut) peaches from Glastonbury.  I didn't realize we could grow those here - I'm going to try to get some going!  Added to our fresh veggies from the garden it made for a lovely summer dinner on the terrace.

Here's Scott at the flower vendor, Hay House Farms of Old Saybrook, CT (and that's Julien twirling his Roma umbrella!)  They are a CSA and participate in the Chester, Lyme & Old Saybrook Farmer's Markets.  (We've talked about getting involved in a CSA, but between some of our friends I feel like we may have enough garden space between us to do our own!  We'll have to plan better for next summer.)  The farmer/artist has a blog and he said they do a farm stand on Thursdays 3-6pm - looks from the blog that you can visit the farm and check out their great kiwi vines which are producing!  Again, I didn't realize you could grow those here....very interesting.  There's a photo on his blog of the kiwi growing over the pergola.  Apparently they also have a Stupa, which is rare in CT.