Sunday, October 28, 2012

10 ways to prepare for power outages.

We have definitely had some experience with power outage where we live. There are a lot of trees, lots of wind. Its a recipe for outages. 

While getting ready for the next big possibility of being without power for several days, I was looking for a list I had made previously of things to have on hand and ways to prepare. I couldn't find. it. :( 
I decided having a post about it would keep it in a spot I could find AND it might help anyone else out there who too is preparing at some point in time. 

Hurricane Sandy is the instigator this time around, but we were very familiar with Isabel. 
We thought we were prepared, but it turned out nothing can prepare you for trees falling on your house :)
(except maybe to not have trees near your house.)
The ones that fell didn't look at all like they were thinking about falling. 
We're a bit more ready now. 

A few years back we bought a generator. While it's not the nifty "in your basement ready to take over when the power shuts off" type, its a generator, nonetheless. 
So here is my list of plans/preparations based on my circumstances. You can adjust however you need to. 
I live in the woods, on a well, with septic, and a sump pump in my basement. 

1. FUEL- For generator, for outdoor grill, for dutch ovens. We have a several 5 gallon containers for gas, two propane tanks, and always keep several large (read Sam's club) size charcoal bricket bags ready. We also have a charcoal grill, so if we run out of propane, we can fall back on the other grill. 

2. WATER- My husband can hook the generator up to the well, but its nice to have a back up just in case. We fill our large bathtub with water to use for bathing (sponge "bath's" in the shower) for filling toilet tanks to flush them, and for anything else not food related. 
We also have water stored, and when a storm is coming, we fill up three other large 5 gallon jugs with drinking and cooking water. Our well water is NOT we fill up drinking water through our reverse osmosis machine while we still have water running. 

3. FOOD- Not usually an issue or a huge need to adjust what its the house already for us, but I do try to plan some things that I know will be easy to make for several days. We hook up our refrigerators to the generator, so perishable items are not a problem. I do plan on making a trip to the store well before the chaos starts. Since I already have a large food supply in my home (usually 3 months worth), I pick up more milk, fruit and veggies, etc. The stores get ransacked a few days before the storm!

4. COOKING- Our stove and oven are electric, which is why we use our grills. However, because we have a generator, I can still use my electric hot plates if I need to, and even a crock pot or the microwave. 
We also have an AMAZING camp stove. Which I'm sure will get a lot of use this time around if we lose power. Any excuse my husband gets to use his nifty stove, he does. The griddle is big enough to cook my three year old on. Don't worry, we never get that desperate. 
We make sure to have oil, etc on hand for cooking. 

5. LIGHT & NEWS- We use candles in the main areas, flashlight for when we are moving from room to room AND solar lights from outside that we bring in and put in vases or inverted on the counter or table. Solar lights also are great for the bathroom. And the kids use them for night lights. (we also use them when we are camping. No batteries needed) I prefer the style with switches on them. 
Have a battery or hand crank radio ready to keep up on your local conditions and news about your situation is also good planning.

6. NECESSITIES- Toilet paper, paper towels (won't be doing laundry), Clorox wipes, paper plates- etc, diapers (if you need them) medication. Anything you need daily, make sure you have a weeks worth at least. Think about not being able to use a dishwasher or washing machine- what do you need? Make life easy on yourself.
Do you have pets? Don't forget them too.

7. INSURANCE- Not only do you need insurance for your home (always), when its stormy its nice to have the info handy for your insurance company *JUST* in case you need it. Being one of the first ones to report a loss is a good thing. I also have a few contractors numbers handy because we learned with Isabel, they booked up quick!

8. EMERGENCY CONTACTS- Have the numbers of people you need to reach printed out somewhere. If you can't get on the internet, if your phone doesn't work so the address book isn't accessible, whatever the reason...You need to be able to have a way to reach people without depending on the stored number on your phones. . If I can't use my cell phone for some reason, and need to use the land line, I have to switch to an "old school" regular land line phone since our phone is cordless. I could plug it in with the generator, but we try to limit what gets put on it. You should also have handy your power company's number and local authorities just in case. Not everything is a 911 call. 

9. MENTAL PREPARATION- Make sure you have a family meeting. Let all family members know what is  probably going to happen, and that they are going to still be safe. Have them help you get ready, it makes it less scary for them if they see the process of preparation. Discuss what your plans are for food, water, etc. Have comfort items handy and possibly discuss new sleeping arrangements if needed. Kids get scared when the power is out at night, even if they normally sleep in the dark. 

10. PHYSICAL PREPARATION- Get all the laundry, cleaning, and other household things done that will make life easier for you. Having clean clothes, clean dishes, a vacuumed floor, etc makes being without power a bit more easy. 
Keep in mind the time of year. If it's cold outside, be sure to have blankets, sleeping bags etc handy in case you are without heat. 
Prepare fun activities to do that don't use power, and even some fun things to do in the dark. If the power is out in the fall or winter, you could very well be in the dark for several hours before bedtime. Light sticks, and other glow activities are fun in the dark. Play flash light tag, set up some board games. 
If you have a portable DVD player, have it charged up for at least ONE movie, or on your computer perhaps. You can even make popcorn ahead of time and plan on a movie night. 
Have some sweet treats prepared-- chocolate is a must :)
DO NOT plan on feeding your children lots of foods they otherwise wouldn't eat. Like MRE's. No toddler is going to devour those if they aren't used to eating them already. 
Have a place planned outside your area to stay in case you will be without power for a longer period of time than you've planned for. 
The biggest thing that we do, is think through how three-seven days without power might affect us, and try to plan the best we can to have everything we NEED. Need means HAVE to have to survive on our own.
When that list is done, you just get busy preparing in those areas.
Attitude goes a long way, and if the adults in the house are panicking, or are upset about the situation, it trickles down. Think of your power being out as an unplanned camping trip, or staying in some exotic location that lives a bit more primitive. Living without things that make life so fast paced could be just the break you've needed :)

When the Power goes out:
Don't panic. Unplug electronics so they don't get hit with a surge when it comes back on. We do this DESPITE having a whole house surge protector. It often goes off and on repeatably before going out for a longer time.
Call your utility company to make sure they know you don't have power. Some areas don't get reported for a long time because everyone assumes someone else did it. There may also be a recording that lets you know when you can expect it to come back on (but don't hold your breath-- that changes often)

Keep in contact with your loved ones. Letting those who don't live near you especially know that you are okay will put them at ease. The media blows things way out of proportion. For all they know, you could be under the depths of the sea, even though you live at 3000 feet. 

Listen to local news stations to keep updated on the weather and other issues in your area. 
Keep in contact with local family and friends in case they need help. 

A little preparation goes a long way. :)

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Blessing/Christening dress

I made a dress for my new little granddaughter Pumpkin to be blessed in. 
I used a McCalls pattern for the shape and size of the bodice and sleeves and then just designed it the way I saw it in my head. 
My daughter picked out the fabric. 

I LOVE how it turned out. 

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Lil' Pumpkin Baby Shower

My daughter is having our first grandbaby-- as I've mentioned here before. She is due on Halloween and of COURSE I volunteered myself to throw her a shower. A few of my friends T and K told me that they wanted to throw it but I arm wrestled my way into doing it with their help. :)
Since the due date was Halloween, we loved the idea of pumpkins. Thus the Lil' Pumpkin theme was born (no pun intended)

Pinterest again--- heavily borrowed from and a big thank you to everyone out there who posts their party plans as I do. Don't we just love each other??

We served pumpkin and fall themed foods for dinner
Pumpkin Ravioli with sage butter sauce

White chicken corn chili served in mini pumpkins with corn bread muffins
Apple, bacon and caramelized onion turnovers
Individual lush cakes- that look like upside down candy corn

Caramel apple "nachos"

We made individual pies in mini mason jars for our thanks for coming gift

We had some fun with pumpkin bowling

We made a few "mummies"

and we had a great time!

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Progressive one location

My husband and I love to cook. Some of our greatest date nights are creating a delicious meal together. But what we really love to do is entertain. Guess you may have gathered that if you frequent this blog. :)

Enter: Progressive Dinner Party
I used to be the person in charge of social events for our church congregation. One year we hosted a progressive dinner at our home, as a means of getting to know each other better. Progressive dinners were not a new idea, by any means. But the problem with them is that you are traveling (and in our case, the homes weren't close together-- 10-20 mins apart in most cases) and you are with the same group of people the whole time. Not really reaching out and learning more about people outside your regular circle. 

Having it all in one place, but still moving around was my goal, and it worked out perfectly. It was a very successful and fun night. Here's how we did it.

Our theme was MOVIES.
We began with a group of 40 that RSVP'd
In our home, we had 5 rooms set up with a table that would each seat 8. Dinner would be five courses. 
(dining room, living room, family room, morning room, kitchen)

We asked for volunteers to be one of five "table captains". These couples would decide on their table's movie (theme), decorate their table and the room it was held in, decide what food they wanted served, and would divide up making that food with the other couples who would begin at their table. 

As it turned out, we had the following "Movies" and food-
Casablanca- Moroccan
Lady and the Tramp- Italian
True Grit- BBQ
Pirates of the Caribbean- Tropical
Julie and Julia- home cooking (Julia Child's dishes)

As everyone arrived, they received a name tag- which obviously had their name on it, but there was also a number in the corner: 1, 2, or 3. I made sure each couple's name tag has the same number on it. If there were singles in our group, I paired them up for the night. (a moving buddy :)

Dinner began at the table which guests brought food for- the table captains they were under.  But as each course began, the couples would move to another table. I wanted to mix it up so that you never ate with the same couples twice. Get to know more people. 

Here is where the number on the name tag came into play. Each table had three couples that "move". The "table captains" never moved. They stayed at their table the entire time.So each table had a couple with number 1, number 2, and number 3 on their name tags.
The tables were also numbered 1-5 (to make things easier)

When it was time to "move" for the next course, each couple would progress the number of tables stated on their name tag, clockwise. SO.... the folks at table number 1 did the following:
name tag 1 moved to table 2
name tag 2 moved to table 3
name tag 3 moved to table 4

At table 2- 
name tag 1 moved to 3
name tag 2 moved to 4
name tag 3 moved to 5

and so on.

Following Couple number 1 from table 1 for all the courses...they would eat at tables 1-5 in order for each course.
Couple number 2 from table 1 ate at table 3 for 2nd course, 5 for third course, 2 for 4th course, and 4 for 5th course.
get the idea? Each course would have the couples moving forward the number of tables that was on their name tag. So each course had 4 new couples together.

(if you are confused, draw a circle like this one and map the movement of the'll all come together)

Now this would be perfect the way it's stated here. However, we wanted to have some "free mingling" time. So we actually had dessert together. 
Our movie for Dessert was Charlie and the Chocolate factory, and we had chocolate fountain. 
So in our rotations, there was one table that each couple never made it to. But for dessert, they could sit with whomever they wanted. 

There were only a few things that attendees wished they had been able to do
1. try all the different food- because you only got one course at each table (and missed one in our rotation)
2. try all the different food ;)

It would have been a LOT to have enough of each course to let 40 people even try a bite. There were leftovers here and there, so folks did mull around and take a piece of this and that at the end.

Dressing to go along with the theme would be a fun thing to do as well. A few table captains did dress up, which was great! 

So that was our fun Progressive dinner in one location!!

NOTE: Some couples were disappointed that they didn't get to try the food they brought, because they are only at that table for the first course. It would have been wise to let them know that they should make a little extra to try at home before they bring it. :) There were dishes from different countries, and some people made things they'd never eaten before. 

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

T-shirt to little girl's maxi skirt

I found this t-shirt at Kohl's in the clearance section for $1.44. I HAD to buy it to make a skirt for Love Bug. She's been asking me if I'll make her a "long dress know, like yours. Not a tutu like mine." WHAT, she wants to wear something that ISN"T a tutu? 


Anyway. It was late. Past 9 pm when I started making it. I needed Love Bug so I could make it fit her. I really should have waited until the next day but I was so excited to try it out. Mr. Leafy was not happy that I wasn't putting the crying whining children in bed, so I was working as fast as I could. 

No instructions. I'm sorry. I'll make another. I PROMISE! That one will have a tute. 

Anyway, This is how it turned out. 

Cute, no? 

I mean, for a 10pm finish time and a cranky kid to boot. Not too shabby. I had to piece the waistband together with fabric from the sleeves, but was quite happy to also have some of the blue stripe left over to add to it. 

Love Bug was in heaven wearing it today. 

Dressy ruffled maxi

Found this really cute ruffled knit at Joann Fabric and had to use it for a maxi. It was pretty easy to match up the rows of ruffles. I used the fabric inside out for the waistband. Kind of hard to see in the photo. 
I used the same tute as I did for my other maxi skirts. See the info on THIS POST

Maxi skirt/dress

I was trying to talk my oldest teen into making a maxi skirt, and when she told me she wanted a dress instead, I pulled my skirts waistband up to my chest to show her how easy it would be to make one that was a dress. THEN I decided I needed one. But I got to thinking that it would be great if it could be a dress or a skirt. It was made the same as my first maxi skirt. See THIS POST for more info.

So, here is the finished skirt. And...the dress photo...well I accidentally deleted the photo off my FB page and now its gone completely. So I'll have to take another when I wear it next. I spilled some bleach on the bottom of it (and about cried after having *just* made it today) but saved it!! Whew. 

Photo of dress coming soon. 

Meanwhile. I just made the waist band 7 inches before folding so it fit in the chest better. This fabric I used sideways and kept the selvage in tact so I didn't do anything to the hem. Perfect!

The ruffled Maxi Skirt

Bet you thought I was joking about making a maxi for every occasion. No lie, I have a problem. These are so easy and so cute I've made 5 and have fabric ready for several more. PLUS making some for my daughters....I may never stop!

I saw this super cute ruffled maxi from A Small Snippet
She made hers using an old sheet, but that doesn't make any difference in the instructions.

I made mine with a knit lace fabric. Since its totally see-through, I made a permanent slip under it to the knee  with a dark jersey knit fabric. I can not even begin to tell you how comfortable this maxi is. I didn't finish the edges on the ruffles since the fabric won't fray. 

Love love love!!

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Twirly skirt

Another project for our church ladies sewing night is a twirly skirt. Love Bug LOVES to twirl. I love to make her skirts, tutus and the like. 

Found the tutorial on this site  and it was SO easy to make. Seriously easy. My oldest...wait, I don't have a name for her yet....The Great- that's what we'll call her, said she hates it when she reads on a blog that something is super easy and fast. Then it takes all day and never works anyway. Not so here. It literally took me 20 minutes to make. I was fortunate enough to be able to use the exact size that the poster used and no math skills were required. If math had been needed, I would have been crying on the floor in the fetal position after spending hours trying to figure it out. NOT because its too complicated, but because math and I are from different planets. 

Then today I was talking to some friends about the skirt and realized that the math required was actually quite easy and I was just overreacting to begin with. (whew)

Love Bug models her new super cute skirt here:

and the twirl factor is very satisfactory!!

It doesn't require a finished edge because its a knit/spandex fabric, but putting in a small hem would have also been easy. I plan to put some trim on the edge to give it a little pop. I just used my serger on the edge. The waistband is also a yoga pant style. LOVE. LOVE. LOVE.

Loved the twirly so much I decided to make one for myself.

Sorry, no twirling photo :( But believe me, it too has a overwhelming twirl factor. In case twirling is your thing. :)

Maxi Skirt

I love wearing skirts in the summer. Its hot and balmy on the east coast, and skirts *can* be super comfortable. The problem is finding one that fits well. 

This month I get to help plan an activity for our church women's group, and we decided to do a sewing activity with a few projects to choose from. I ran across this really cute Maxi skirt tute on Pinterest (are you really still not on pinterest? please tell me it isn't so)  and decided to give it a try. Leanne- the creator of the super cute maxi in question, talked about how easy it was and how she couldn't help but make more of them. I must admit that I am now addicted to them as well. 
Here is her TUTE- but be prepared to make a dozen of'll want to after the first one.
If you're afraid to work with knit, give it a try anyway. The best advice I can offer is let the machine do the walking. Don't try to pull on the fabric at all, and you'll be fine.

Here is my maxi skirt. I LOVE that the waistband is yoga pant style. I made mine 2 inches smaller than my waist to compensate for the stretchy and I was glad that I did. By the end of the day (read 16 hours including a nap in it) it had relaxed more than expected. I'm sure after a run through the washer and dryer it will shrink back up a bit, but definitely take that into consideration when planning your size.

I'll post more skirts as I make them (hope you don't get board looking at maxi skirts. I'm thinking of making one for every occasion. Can't wait to show you my cakepop making skirt :)

Monday, June 4, 2012

Traveling with a preschooler

Love Bug and I recently took a trip to Disney World with a friend and her daughter.
We flew there and I knew I'd have to keep her happy for our flight. Happily our flight there was a direct flight and we were only on the plane for a few hours. The trip home had a layover (which was delayed) and I was really glad we had a lot packed to do to keep her busy.

Love Bug is the youngest of after flying with a small fry a time or two I've learned a few things.  
Part of making travel with kids easier, especially young kids, is having lots of little things to do, and having them easy to get to. The other part is having enough to munch on- and keeping your cool.

Currently, you can have one carry-on item and one personal item (purse, small backpack, computer bag, etc) per person on most airlines. I pack a roller bag with my computer, dvd player, extra snacks and activities, a change of clothes for Love Bug (pajamas if it's an evening flight), and any items I need for myself. 
In a backpack, I have snacks, activities, head phones, etc. I put Love Bugs activities in a small bag which I place inside my backpack.  Before we board the plane, I pull the DVD player out of its case, put in the movie that we plan to watch, and put that in my backpack. We make sure anything we need to get to easily is in the backpack. Love Bug carries her own little backpack with some comfort items and a snack or two. Her backpack is really light, and has wheels on it so she isn't over burdened getting on and off the plane. 

When we get on the plane, we pull out the activity bag and put it under the seat in front of Love Bug's seat. We put the snack pack, and drinks in the seat pocket so they are ready to use. We also choose an activity to pull out that won't be a problem while the plane takes off (nothing that will "get away"). 

In preparation for the trips we have planned for the summer, I participated in a travel busy bag exchange. Busy bags are super popular right now...just google or pinterest "busy bags" or "activity bags" and you'll see tons of ideas!

We love busy bags, but I wanted some that were geared specifically for traveling with ease.
This is the bag we used this trip to put our activities in. It fit very well in my back pack and had enough space for lots of compact activities.

 Here is what was inside.
 A small magnetic whiteboard. This doubles as a drawing tool and a place to play with anything magnetic. I included Dry erase pens, erasers, and mini magnets. The board is only a few dollars at Walmart. 

 TIP: the pens that come with anything dry erase are usually not a very good quality and not only have high odor, but also don't erase well. We LOVE Expo dry erase pens. 

This alphabet board was used with Newman's Own ABC cookies and can also be used with other ABC cookies and crackers- such as Earth's Best Letter of the Day cookies. We printed it from here.
We also had a pouch with pipe cleaners- just for making fun things with and a pouch with Popsicle sticks that have velcro on them-- to make shapes, letters, etc. 
I printed coloring pages and had some crayons in a soap dish. I also made a "Woody's Round-up" game (we're are headed to Disney after all). I used a plastic plate found at the $ zone a Michael's to use as the "pasture",  and drew a fence on it.  I bought cube magnets at Staples and printed a picture of Woody riding Bullseye- which I laminated. Tape it to one cube, use the other on the bottom of the plate to move Woody and herd the white pom pom sheep around. 
More magnet fun. Nemo playset and a Robot Hang man game. Love Bug just played with the letters. 
The pouch on the left has a retractable measuring tape, calculator, water snake game and a few strips of bubble wrap. These are just fun to play with. The right pouch has scissors and paper. Lots of cutting went on!! Bring a ziploc to put the clippings in for easy clean up!
These are a princess memory game and then the green pouch has two collapsible cups, plastic tongs, mini pom poms and a little spoon. I included a paint pallet too. Love Bug poured the pom poms into the center of the paint pallet then used the tongs to move the pom poms around the pallet and into the cups.
Stickers are always a huge hit. We also love the play packs you can find pretty much anywhere now. They come with crayons and a small activity book and are less than a dollar. 
Lacing cards and beads. I printed and laminated Disney themed characters. Love Bug did this activity for a long time. 
Popsicle color matching game. Its made with felt and the sticks. One side has a color dot, the other side has the color spelled out. 

Peter pan and Wendy puzzle from here. I put magnets on the back of each piece to keep them from slipping around. 

In the same pouch were these cute Neverland clip cards from the same website. 
Pom Poms in action.

The sticker books had pages in the center to put the stickers on.

Using the cookie cards during our layover. :)

And our snack pack! We've used this lots of times. Its a simple craft container (like a tackle box) filled with little treats. Love Bug has her own buffet of treats and it makes it easier than having lots of little containers.

On the way up and down in a flight, it helps if your little one is chewing or sucking on something to help their ears with the pressure changes. Love Bug doesn't like drinking a lot- it can sometimes be a while getting up to altitude- and I found that sucking on other things works best. Love Bug enjoys these applesauce packs.

They did the trick and her ears were fine the whole trip.
My friend brought a package of wipes with her and they were something I missed having (now that we are past the diaper phase). So as she pointed out, wipes are great for lots of things. We used them for hands, spills on shirts, wiping off the trays, etc. Bring some diapers wipes along. Travel packs are perfect for that.

Hope your summer is filled with easy travels!!