Thursday, December 22, 2011

Christmas Is Coming!!!

Yes, Christmas is almost upon us and as much as I would love to delay it a least another week I can't. I did get most of my work done since the last post. I changed the calendar (I know about time, it used to be stuck at June), I changed the flag to a Christmas themed one, the tree is decorated and the house smells like cookies. I am however nowhere near done, at least it feels that way.

The tree was one of the things I really slacked on this year. It finally got decorated and it looks pretty. The tree is an artificial one, I can't have a live one because I'm allergic :( This one is nice it has glitter and pine cones and fake snow in it. Almost all of the ornaments on it are handmade. There are some clay and some painted. The majority are plastic canvas. There are even some cookies ones, the kind that smell like cinnamon and gingerbread. I try to avoid putting a lot of breakable ornaments on the tree because I'm afraid the cats will knock them off and break them. So that's my tree...all done.

Then came the cookies. We have a tradition of baking a ton, and I do mean a ton, of cookies.
I bake a least five different kinds of cookies a year. This year there's peanut butter kiss cookies, sugar cookies, thumb print cookies (these have different kinds of jellies in the middle), and rugelach (a cream cheese dough cookie with raisins and nuts and sugar in the middle.) I still have to cut out and decorate and bake the sugar cookies but the rest are all done and in boxes for Christmas day.

If you like peanut butter kiss cookies here's the easiest way to make them: Buy a package of peanut butter cookie mix (any kind will do, this year I used target brand.) Make the mix according to the package directions. Roll the dough into one inch balls and coat them with some sugar. Bake them in the oven at the package temperature 8-12 min or until the cookies look like they are cracking. Take them off the cookie sheet and gently push an unwrapped Hershey Kiss in the middle of the cookies. Allow them to cool until the chocolate kiss has hardened back up and enjoy. I still have wrapping to do and some more cleaning to do to get the house ready but other than that I think I'm almost done.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Christmas Traditions

It seems that as families grow and change so do traditions. I would be wrong to say that mine hasn't, but it didn't for many, many years. We have some traditions that we still follow and the ones that we don't. I would love to go back to doing. I moved fairly far away from my family and it is one of the few times we all can seem to get together is right around Christmas. Since I moved everyone comes here for the holidays, to exchange gifts and have a feast. This lead to doing away with some of the more special traditions that were there.

I wrote this years ago for a contest I won and I thought I would share it with you:
"I awoke to a cold morning, not wanting to get out of my nice warm bed. I threw the covers back with one full swoop, so as not to be tempted with their warmth, and climbed out of bed. I threw on my favorite red sweater and black pants, and brushed my hair. I proceeded to put on my jingle bell earrings, that I was warned not to wear the day before, knowing full well that they would annoy my mother so much that by lunch time she would make me take them off.

I had a big day ahead of me; it would be the first time I really got to help my grandmother cook our traditional Lithuanian Christmas Eve dinner. I could barley contain my joy at the idea. Christmas Eve by far was my most favorite day of the year, followed very closely, of course, by Christmas morning. When I opened the curtains to my room and saw that the ground had been covered with and fresh clean blanket of snow I just couldn’t contain myself anymore and ran out to the living room screaming “IT SNOWED”!

My mother was already up and packing thing in bags that we needed to take to grandma’s with us. She suggested that I go get my boots and coat on so we could leave when she was done getting things together. Once I had all of my outer clothes on I helped my little sister put hers on too, anything really to help speed up the process of getting out of the house and getting to grandmas.

Upon arrival to my grandmother’s house, you get bombarded with the smell of all the wonderful foods she has already started cooking in preparation for dinner. The pork chop broth for the beet borsht was already made. She immediately put me to work grating the beets and cutting up potatoes and mushrooms. Once the beets were grated we added them along with peppercorns and dried polish mushrooms to the pork chop broth. It needed to cook for a while before we added the smelt to it. We then took the majority of potatoes and put them in a pot of water to boil and make into mashed potatoes once they were done. The other potatoes and mushrooms got added to some butter in a cast iron skillet with some of my grandmother’s secret spices and some onion. We got the cream corn out and into a pot, the large cast iron skillet out and on the stove full of oil waiting to cook the haddock in it, and we opened the olives and pickles and put them out on the table.

I got to set the table while we were waiting for everything to cook. The red and white porcelain dishes, silverware, napkins, special frosted Christmas glasses and shot glasses for the adults for the toast. The package of blessed wafer set in the middle of the table waiting for my grandmother to break it.

Everyone slowly made their way into the kitchen. I added the smelts to the borscht, and floured the haddock so grandmother could fry it in the skillet till it was golden brown. We got out the slaw, egg nog, butter and milk out of the fridge, and started putting all the food on the table.

Once the smelts were cooked in the borscht, bowls full of reddish purple borscht started to make their way to the table, and the fish was brought over on a plate covered with paper towels to collect any excess oils. I mashed the potatoes with butter, salt and milk, while my mother got the other potatoes and mushrooms into a bowl and the cream corn into a bowl too and put both on the table.

With everyone seated at the table and all the food around us, grandmother poured the adults blackberry brandy in the shot glasses and egg nog for everyone else. She broke the blessed wafer and gave everyone a piece before she sat back down. I proceeded to say grace and everyone ate their wafer then toasted to a good and blessed Christmas. The food never seemed to stop flowing onto our plates.

When everyone was done and full with as much as they could eat we went out into the living room to watch some TV while we waited for my grandmother to give us the okay to run up stairs to see what Santa had left for us at her house. It was usually a plastic candy cane filled with chocolate and a coloring book and crayons.

I was exhausted. I never realized how much work my grandmother put into making all that food. Once we got our presents from Santa we were out the door and off to church for the 5pm Christmas Eve mass. After mass we would ride around and look at Christmas lights that people put out for decoration. Then home to put out cookies and tea for Santa and to bed. BED! I was so tired after such along day. I was asleep as soon as my head hit the pillow.

This was many, many years ago. My grandmother is now in her nineties and lives in a nursing home because she has dementia. I am thankful that I was able to learn how to make this feast from her and that she taught me her secrets. I still carry on this tradition with my kids. I make the borscht and the fish and the majority of the meal. We do not break the wafer because I cannot find it anymore, but we do toast to a good Christmas. We go to church and drive around and look at all the beautiful lights. I hope that someday my kids will want to learn and carry on the tradition as well."

Since the moving I unfortunately have not been doing this and it hurts to think about it. We do still go to church, the kids sing in the choir, and ride a round and look at lights. I just for some reason can't seem to find the time or means to make the meal. I have on average ten people over for Christmas and cooking two big meals back to back is just out of the question. My hope is to one year start this tradition again and hope that it is not to late for my kids to enjoy it.

It seems that every year things just never seem to go as planed and things just don't happen the way we plan them. Traditionally we put the tree up the weekend after Thanksgiving...This year a week late and it's still not decorated. I haven't done anything to the house for decorating. It's really in shambles. I have things still spread out and about from Thanksgiving. I have failed at changing the flag and the calendar. The flag is from Halloween and the calendar still says June. (Maybe just maybe we will decorate the tree and change the flag and calendar this week, but I'm not counting on it.) We do a themed Christmas dinner which has already been planned. This year is an "All American Christmas", hot dogs, hamburgers, oven fries, potato salad, apple pie, etc. I still haven't started baking the zillions of cookies for Christmas morning breakfast (tea/coffee and cookies), hoping to start that later this week. So much to do and so little time...

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Kicking off the holidays.

Thanksgiving has come and gone and the start of the Christmas season has begun. With a nice warm 60° day we headed out for some holiday fun. We kicked off the start of the holiday season by going to watch Santa arrive by tugboat this year. It was awesome. I have to say that it's the very first time I've seen Santa arrive this way. Usually he's on top of a building or turning on the city lights but this year we opted for something close to home and different. santa on tugboat 2

Following the crowd and wait to see Santa we headed to the village for dinner. They are doing a wonderful job decorating the village for Christmas. I'll have to try to get some pictures when it's all done.

After dinner it was time to head back down to downtown and the docks for a lighted boat parade. The boat parade was so much fun. The drawbridge goes up and people start cheering and whistling, boat horns blare and colored lights float on by.


Sunday, November 20, 2011

Tea Staining Paper

I'm currently working on paper for a book and figured I'd share how I tea stain my paper. When I first started staining paper I read up on different ways and materials to use, for example you can use coffee. Now I've never used anything other than tea, as I don't really see an need to. I tend to do what works for me, so it may be a bit different than others that you may have seen.

Why tea? you might ask. Well, tea is fairly inexpensive and creates the colors that I am looking for. You can use all different kinds of tea to get different kinds of results, we'll go into that at another time. For this books paper I'm using your standard black tea, the bag shape or size doesn't matter. Tea alone can't do the job though, you'll need a cup of water as hot as you can stand to touch. I find that paper seems to want to absorb the water and color faster if the water is hot. Here are my supplies:

tea staining 1

To get the tea stain on the paper wet the tea bag by dipping it in the hot water. You might need to let the teabag sit for a few seconds to a minute by the side of the cup after you dip it. You want the tea bag and the tea inside to become saturated and absorb/hold the water that you just gave it. When you first dip the tea bag it may seem like it's not getting wet, this is why I dip it then let it sit. Once it has set you can dip it again and make sure that it is wet, give it a little squeeze you don't want it dripping wet. As you work with tea staining you'll get a feel for just how much water you like in your tea bag. If you like your paper to just have a even color across it then simply rub/wipe the tea bag across the paper until the entire paper is colored. You can see in this picture that I have done have the side of this page that way.

tea staining 2

Now I prefer not to have a nice even color to my pages. I like each page to have it's own uniqueness to it, so that no two pages are the same. To do this I start out as described above with the nice solid color but then I go in and dab my tea bag on the paper and squeeze some of the water out. Remember to dip your tea bag into the water when it start to seem like it's getting dry or not leaving a light trail of water on the paper. I dip one tea bag and let it rest by the side of the mug to get a darker color, similar to how you would let the tea bag sit in the water to get a darker stronger tea. If the tea bag happens to break or rip and tea comes out don't panic, it's fine. It actually adds some nice designs to the paper. The places where the tea is on the paper will be darker when it dries. The tea simply brushes off once the paper has completely dried.

Here you can see some the tea staining that I was working on to get the uneven colors

tea staining 3

Once you have stained one side of your paper don't forget about the other side. I do one side and let it set for a bit and then do the other side. It's a fun process and I love to see the results. I would recommend wearing gloves if you do not want your hands dyed or smelling like tea. Hopefully you'll have as much fun as I do tea staining paper. It's a great way to get an old look and feel to paper.

tea staining 4

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Handmade Holidays

The holidays are such a wonderful, magickal time of the year. They are very special to me and hold some of the best memories for me. I love to make the holidays extra special by adding that element of there being something unique and handmade. Plus with out there being much money this time of year handmade makes much more sense. Handmade items are typically equal to, though almost all the time are better than, the manufactured items. I have never been disappointed in the purchase of a handmade item. I usually end up making gifts myself along with cooking for everyone but I love it. If I don't end up making something I like to buy that unique handmade item.

Personally I think that buying something handmade for someone takes more thought than just buying something manufactured. To help inspire you to have a homemade holiday I put together a collection at ArtFire:

Thursday, October 6, 2011

What I learned from Hurricane Irene

So what did I get out of all this?

1. When they tell you to prepare for X amount of days double it. It's more realistic.

2. You loose weight when you don't have much food - even when you eat out.

3. It gets really really dark at night with no power. Like the you can't see your hand an inch in front of your face kind of dark.

4. These kinds of things effect your pets more than you would ever imagine. The dog didn't eat for the first two days, didn't want to go outside, he peed right by the house instead of going all the way out to the back yard, he was always under foot and wouldn't sleep alone. He had to be in bed with us at night. The cats were just as bad.

5. You know and understand on a normal day that friends and family are important but when something like this happens it reinforces it an inexplicable amount. They are the greatest people on this earth and you realize even more how much you love them.

I'm almost going to miss some of this...the quiet, the non-rush of things and the slow pace of life. You learn to appreciate the simple things more. I missed having running water and flush toilets more than any other thing. And the dork that I am missed my on-line friends, people that I've played games with and chatted with, some I've talked with for more than two years.

It amazed me how much we are bound to routine, 5 days with no power and I still found myself stepping into a room flipping on the light switch and expecting something to happen.

Looking Ahead
There is another hurricane on the way. It's still to far out to predict where it's going just yet, but we will be better prepared next time.
Here is a list of necessities of what we would have ready for next time based on what we went though this time.

Preparation List:
1. $200-500 in power means that stores on back up power or doing things manually will not be able to take debit/credit cards.

2. Making sure to fill way more buckets with water and make sure you know where to get water if you run out. Don't be afraid to fill up every pot and pan, bucket and pail, you will need both toilet flushing water and drinking water if you have a well.

3. Entertainment - Have entertainment that doesn't require, playing cards, books.

4. Small generator - so needed to save the food in the fridge and freezer, to run a lamp or charge rechargeable. If not expect to throw everything in the fridge and freezers out.

5. Gas - Fill all your gas cans for generators, tractors, and cars. No power means that the gas pumps won't be running and there might be another gas shortage.

6. Batteries - Lots of stock in them as I say, and do it well in advance of the storm...4 days before the storm hit and we were struggling to find them.

7. Flashlights/Lanterns - 4-5 of them if not more. You will need one for basically every person in the house. If you can't find flashlights or lanterns (we used the battery operated lanterns), book lights make good alternatives.

8. Eco friendly bulbs - This is so you can run more than one light on the small generator.

9. A need to find some way to make coffee with no power. :S

10. Canned food - bread - peanut butter - jelly - grillables (hotdogs/hamburgers that you can throw in a cooler after you loose power or to use if you have a generator)

11. Propane for grill

12. Tape for windows and cardboard. The way I look at it is I'd rather loose a window than put holes in the window frames from ply wood. Tape an X on each section of window then place cardboard over the inside of the window and tape that up. The cardboard will help minimize broken glass in the house.

13. Bathroom spray + Eco friendly toilet bowl cleaner (we use seventh generation). Not flushing the toilets all the time makes the bathroom stink - spray after using the bathroom and squirt a little cleaner in the toilet after flushing to keep the toilet smelling fresh. (Remember to close the lid to keep animals out.)

14. Paper/plastic Products - Cups, plates, knives, forks and spoons - remember there's no real way to wash dishes, water is priceless so you don't want to waste it.

15. Foil for grilling on.

16. Food for animals - Don't forget about them, make sure you have enough food stock piled for them as well, and remember to figure them into the water usage too.

17. Glow bracelets/sticks - Packages of these are cheap, buy them at the dollar store or in the dollar section of Target or Wal-mart. They are great for the kids at night who use nightlights so they are not afraid of the dark...Just remember you will need one - two of these per child per night.

We will definitely be more prepared next time around.

Friday Day 6 - Written 9/2

9:30 am It's amazing how tired you are and how much you sleep when you have no power. I'm thinking it's the sever lack of coffee!

10:00 am Still need to go out and get coffee. The approaching end to all of this has eased some of the tension and stress around here. My hubby thinks I'm completely demented because I said that I'm going to kind of miss this whole experience. I mean I've been without power before but never this long.

10:45 am McDonalds coffee is gone already :(

1:15 pm WE HAVE POWER!!!!! All they had to do was take the final branch out of the lines and flip the they couldn't have done that sooner, but hey who am I to complain I have power!!!

Friday, September 16, 2011

Thursday - written 9/1

Day 5

8:22am You guessed it...still no power or restoration update.

8:33am Out to get coffee. Trees are out of the road but they left the one hanging on the top of the pole in the lines. The trees in the lines down the other way are gone as well...maybe just maybe we will get power back today.

9:00am Bakery is open! :) Doughnuts and coffee for breakfast. Small coffee but hey, it's coffee. I'll definitely need more later. Got to fill the water jugs on the way home.

11:10am Kids are antsy and things are running out of battery life. No more DS, no more portable DVD player. Can't get in the shed to get the bikes or scooters because the old CB antenna is hanging and leaning on a bent bolt. Maybe some coloring...
pencil shavings
Talked to mom who told us that according to the electric companies web site map 65% of our town is still without power. The good news is that gas shipments should be back to normal tomorrow.

11:34am And the frustration is unbearable. A call to the electric company and the first selectman gives us bad news.....the restoration schedule that the electric company was suppose to have done for this morning is not done and will not be done till some time tomorrow. Because we were so far behind in the ticketing process, (remember for some reason the ticket kept disappearing,) we will now not have power till next Wednesday. That's 6 more days with no power. Hubby's about to completely loose it. He has a deadline. All his work is on his computer. Even if we got power back today he would still be pushing to make the deadline.

12:16pm Hubby called the company he's working for. There is no possible way they can extend his deadline. He has to send everything back done or not...he will only get paid for what is done (which is only about half if that.) He hopes that this will not effect any future employment with this company. I feel bad and wish there was something I could do to help. It hurts knowing that we are losing money and he is losing work for things that are beyond our control :( (heartbroken, frustrated, depressed and angry don't even scratch the surface of how I feel.) 5:00pm Went out and bought soup and sandwiches for dinner. MMMMM... can't wait to dig into that. Holding off on eating till the older child gets home from group. Looks like it might rain outside which would stink because we can't run the generator in the rain. According to the new message on the electric companies phone we should have power back by Monday 8:30 pm. but I'm not keeping my hopes up. I've all but given up on getting power back before Wednesday. It's suppose to rain this weekend so we'll have to figure out something for the generator. I'm thinking we put it on one of the folded metal tables (leaving it folded up so it's off the ground.) Then put another metal table open over it with a plastic table cloth over that to help keep it dry, leaving the ends open for exhaust of course. We'll see what we come up with. Got a DSi car charger so we can charge the kids DSi's so they have something to do. They are starting to get on each others nerves and fighting has ensued, hopefully the charged DSi's will fix some of that.

6:15pm I LOVE MY SOUP AND SANDWICH!!!!! <3 Yummy tortellini zucchini soup and turkey sandwich, so good I almost forgot I didn't have power.

7:30pm The first selectman called us and said that the electric companies phone message is wrong and that we will have power back tomorrow. They are all meeting tomorrow at 4:00am to dispatch crews and we should have the whole town back up by tomorrow night sometime. On a side are a riot. I was informed that boys have nipples and girls have boobies which made the little one laugh incredibly hard.

10:00pm Tired of being tired and wanting to sleep by 10:00pm :( Day 5
Day 5 2

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Wednesday - written 8/31

9:16am Still no power a call to the electric company yields that we will not get power back till late next week. The crews that the first selectman said were in town are not anywhere near town. We have no crews currently working in town. The tree that's hanging in the wires up the road is still there 4 days later because the electric company claims no one ever reported it. Two of their own crew trucks have driven right by it and we've been calling the electric company 2-3 time per day. It's kind of hard to tell them what is wrong when you get an automated system all the time with no option on talking to a live person, though we've reported the outage via the automated system days ago. We just talked to a person 2 days ago...what the heck happened to that ticket we put in then for the tree on the lines. Very frustrating.

9:54am Wal-Mart is open on back up power and we can now get drinking water from there.

11:28am Got a Call back from the first selectman who gave us some good news. He met with the electric company today and notified them of the trees on both ends of our road. He said that they would get to cleaning that up later today and we should have power restored tomorrow or the next day. The kiddos won't start school till next Tuesday now from all of this.

1:44pm Out and about...picked up some cat food and something for the kids to do. Saw a few crews from Michigan working a few towns over. The electric company has now changed their message again to say that they have 900 crews working today. They have restored power to about 500,000 customers and have about 300,000 customers still with out power. They plan on having restoration done by Saturday evening and full restoration done by next Wednesday. So...What's the difference between the restoration (Saturday) and the full restoration (next Wednesday)? Does that mean if I don't get power back by Saturday I'm screwed? :(

1:50pm Some street lights up the road are on!!! Keeping my fingers crossed....Tree still in road....No power :( (I want to cry) One can only hope that since they have restored power to the next street over that we will have power back soon.

3:30pm Another call to the electric company...again they are saying that there is no ticket or work order in for the trees on our road. What the heck keeps happening to them? Didn't we just call and go though the same damn thing this morning? We've reported this problem to 5 different reps and the first selectman who reported it to the electric company as well. Tree cutting crews drove by it again. (I understand that they can't touch the crap that's touching the lines because they don't know if the lines are live or not, but take the rest of the crap out of the road so we don't have to go off roading to get by it.) Left another message for the first selectman telling him about the no work order and how there are still no crews working in our area according to the electric company. Hopefully we will hear something soon.

10:05pm Friends of ours were kind enough to allow us to use their showers and into their home stinking and all. For them I am extremely grateful. That goes down as one of the best showers ever. I am clean!! Well at least for the day and I feel better. We took them out to dinner which was fun. It's been forever since we've done anything like that. It was nice to sit and chat and have fun, to forget about the problems for a bit. I can never repay them for opening their home to us and letting us shower. <3
Kids are in bed - generator has been restarted and oh yeah the electric company has been called way shape or form did they attempt to fix the tree in the road. They told us that we need to make accommodations by staying in a hotel or with family, eating out for food but they're not going to pay for it and we don't have the money. They told us that they tree in the lines on our road wasn't a priority or a danger. That we need to wait our turn in line like everyone else...(well everyone else in town just about got power today.) The first selectman told us that the tree would at least be taken care of today...grr.. another call to him and he's not happy with the fact that it wasn't taken care of today like he was told by them and told us to call him tomorrow morning. Sigh. Well at least I'm clean and the kiddos are clean and we had a good day.

10:35pm You know what's bad...Walking into the bathroom closing the door behind you and flipping the switch, expecting that light will come even after four days of no power. Then having to run back out grab a flash light. Wondering if by the time we get power back if I'll end up just walking into the bathroom with the flash light.

line down broken pole

Friday, September 9, 2011

Tuesday - written 8/30

road closed
3:08am I'm freaking out! The fear and paronoia are setting in.....It's not hard to tell who's without power and there are a lot of messed up people out there. We've recently had an increase in crime around here, even the quiet part of town, armed robbery, break ins and theft. How long till that really picks up? Not hard to get in when you know people are without power and running generators. I guess the neighbors were smart for taking the time to practice shooting the day before all this happened.

4:31am You don't realize just how dark it is till there is no light. Oh and apparently yelling that you would like to speak to a human at the automated phone recording that the electric company has works out pretty good. Hubby actually got a person, not that they were any sort of help. All they could tell us was that the whole town is out of power and that the crews will be back out to work in a few hours. Ummm...A FEW HOURS??? Hold on a second, half the darn state is without power, why the hell aren't you people working 24/7 till it's freaking fixed? Also there is no estimate of when we will see power back. :(

5:22am I can only doze off for a few minutes at a time. It's so quiet every noise wakes me up :S

7:04amI swear I hear lots of trucks...maybe power...I want to wake hubby up to go into town to see if they actually got power back yesterday and if so stop and get coffee and danish. Real coffee, yummm. To early to wake him though. I haven't slept since I last wrote, I got sucked into another book.

12:28pm Well I did manage to get a few hours of sleep. Woke up at 9:00 and headed out to town. Unfortunately the bakery wasn't open. The gas station had gas though we had to wait 10 min in line to put some gas in the car. Funny how prices are going though the roof. We drove to the next town over to a bagel shop for having to go though the days without my numerous cups of coffee. We also stopped by the school to fill up the jugs again with water. Came home picked up some more of the yard. Called the cable company to find out when we'd get phone back. They were kind enough to tell us that we will not get cable, phone or internet back until after we have power restored. They said that the electric company has not given them a time line on when that will be and that we are considered a triage area :( Poor hubby's going batty with no power. He has a deadline in two weeks and now he's 4 days behind.

2:18pm It's been fun. Called the town hall "in town" to see where the emergency facilities were so we could get water and showers and such. HA! When the "town" got power back yesterday they closed the shelter. WTF? Our town is completely without power. Gah! Just because the "in town" people have power they close the shelter. What about the 3000+ other households in this god forsaken town that don't have power. We all pay taxes, we are part of this "town" just because people are not staying at the shelter and "in town" has power doesn't mean that the facilities are unneeded by the rest. (In case you were wondering there are many sections to the town. We all share the same zip code and all pay taxes to the same town hall and we all use the same school, buses, etc. We basically make up one big town.) Talking to the first selectman gets us no where. Seems he's just happy "in town" has power back one. He couldn't offer any insight into anything. This is all getting very frustrating. It's hot and humid...I'm stinky and sticky and all I want is a damn shower :\

2:44pm Going out to use the phone upgrade, hopefully to get a smart phone with internet so we can see what the hell is going on out there in the world. :)

7:00pm No go with the phone. I just can't seem to justify the 30 extra dollars a month at the moment. Things are not looking very good. The electric company still will not give us estimates on when we'll be back up and running. They said on the news that they plan to have everyone fully restored by next Wednesday. O.O Umm...Yeah. On top of that the state set rations on gas to where the gas stations are only going to get deliveries of 3,000 gallons per delivery. So if they only get deliveries every other day that's 3,000 gallons every other day. (I see riots at the gas pumps happening in the future if that doesn't change.) The gas station "in town" ran out of gas by late afternoon and they aren't expecting a delivery until late tomorrow or Thursday. Wer'e down to about 6 gallons of gas for the generator. We've been averaging about 2 gallons a day, so that's enough gas for the generator till Friday maybe Saturday if we push it. We are down to 6 gallons of drinking water. No way that's going to get us though to next Wednesday and we don't have much gas in the cars either.

8:10pm Whoohoo! A friend of ours had power back and says that we can use their shower and fill up with water there. Finally a little goo news.
working by candle light

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Day After Irene - written 8/29

8:40am We still have no power. The trash men woke me up. I guess that's good, at least they can make it through the roads. I slept like crap. No a/c to control the temperature. It was so humid. I'd get cold and cover up, get hot then toss the covers off. It was back and forth like that all night. I think I figured out a way to check the freezer, we'll find out later. It's amazing how much water you use especially to flush the toilets. One 5 gallon jug is only enough to flush a toilet two times. We've already gone through 8 gallons of water, that leaves us with one 5 gallon jug of toilet water.

9:30am Call to the electric company recording says a week or longer without power. We don't have anywhere near enough water to go that long. Going to head out to see if the local public campgrounds have water, or we'll just fill them in the pond for toilet water. :(

9:48am Oldest child still has program. She'll get to go somewhere where there's power. Hopefully she'll get to eat something there too.

11:00am Found water at the schools outdoor high pressured spout. :) We went down in town and they will have power tonight but because we don't live "in town" we don't have public utilities and there for won't have power for the week or longer. My thought is: What the hell do I pay taxes to the "town" for then? I don't get anything out of it. I pay the same if not more than the people that live "in town" do and I don't get a darn thing from utilities, no public trash, sewer or water, no staffed fire department or police. All we get is a crappy school system. :( (sorry I'm done venting for now) Good parents found us a generator :) We won't loose everything :) 4:12pm Wow, just wow! What a day it's been. We cleaned up some of the front yard till my parents came with the generator. It won't run the well pump :( but at least it will run the fridge and the chest freezer. Dad and I went out to get gas and new gas cans. Ha. That was funny. We found a 5 gallon kerosene can, which we spray painted red so we could use it for gas, and a 2 gallon gas can. Then the fun started...trying to find gas. Every gas station we went to had signs on the pump that read "Sorry no gas." no gas
We finally found two stations a ways up the highway that had gas. The lines for the pumps were so long that there were cars out in the roads. One station next to us was actually getting a shipment as the gas station we were in line for was getting signs read to to put on the pumps. We were luck though and managed to get gas before they did run out. Back home the generator is up and running. We saved the food! No water, but we saved the food!!! (can you tell I'm happy about that?) Good thing to for the generator because the freezer was up to 39°F this morning.

8:05pm Put the kids to bed. I have to say that my parents are great and I don't know what I would do with out them. Not only did they get the wonderful generator but they gave us money to go get dinner. :) We drove south to the actual shore (about 15 minutes away.) It surprisingly didn't look to bad where we were. Stopped at Five Guys so we wisely used moms money to fill to the brim on burgers, bacon cheese hot dogs, and fries; because who knows when the next hot food we'll have will be.
bird on dock
Rainbow in clouds
8:54pm OMG! I've just seen the biggest fail known to man. The electric company has a text for update thing so I text it with the zip code. The idea is you get a text back with the updates on outages in your area and information about the outage such as restoration times.........ummm....yeah. I got the following text back: "There are no power outages reported in your area." Are you freaking kidding me!? We've only reported it like hundred billion times. Like I'm sitting in the dark with candles and a generator for the fun of it. fail text

Monday, September 5, 2011

Day Irene Hits - written 8/28

I thought it was going to go really well. Before I fell asleep last night we lost cable but it came back on as I briefly woke up and heard the television back on. This apparently did not last long, as I awoke at 6:34am with no power. Wonderful. At least the kids were still asleep. I took a walk around the inside of the house, no noticeable damage to the house that I could see. I grabbed my daughters radio so we could get some sort of news. Okay tornado watch - they tell us on the radio to look to the sky - sure let me go stand outside in the middle of the hurricane to see if anything is coming...nah I think I'll pass. New reports those without power can be without it for up to five days. Ummm...I don't think the fridge and freezers will stall that long and I don't know what to do. I can't afford to replace two freezers and the fridge. We have a ton of CSA chickens, about 10 in all, and it sucks thinking about loosing all of it.

10:00am The winds outside are so strong you can actually see the wind with all the rain and tree debris it's carrying. We've been hearing trees falling all morning. At last count we've lost 4 trees and an old CB antenna. The kids are finally up and complaining that they have nothing to do. Kids these days don't know how to live without technology. The older child has mental problems and doesn't understand the situation. She insists on playing the Wii (Can you tell they've never been without power before?) and was wondering why all the leaves and branches were in the yard, amazed by the amount of them. I tell them to color, draw, do word find books or puzzle books, play dolls, and read. They have plenty to do but they come back with the "that's boring." They should have grown up when I did.

12:30pm Peanut butter and fluff for lunch. Thinking that the eye must be past us by now but the winds are still strong. We went outside to take a few pictures and still hear trees falling. Hubby said that it looks like a tree sneezed on us with all the bit of leaves and branches ever where. Silly hubby. We did see an electric company car drive by, maybe we will get power back sooner than can only hope. Kids are holding up. It's been about 8 hours since we lost power.

1:00pm Flipped on the radio quickly to check on things.. Good new: The closest city to us just got power back, which is good because if we need anything we know where to go. Bad news: Our electric company has over half it's customers with out power. :(

4:30pm Going out for a drive to see where there is power.

7:10pm Back from our drive. It really doesn't look good. Up the road trees on lines and down the road trees on lines. I took some pictures of some of the things we saw. Tree across a bridge = bridge closed, down lines sparking. There are trees and lines down every where. The closest place we found with power is about twenty minutes away. One of the grocery stores in the city was open so we stopped in an bought 5 bags of ice. Dinner was breakfast sandwiches from a Dunkin Doughnuts we found with power. Got home an put everything we wanted to keep from the fridge into coolers with the ice. The kids are afraid to go to bed without nightlight so I gave them each two glow bracelets I found an a book light. The news now says a week or so until they expect to get power back to everyone...I wish I knew what to do. There are 650,000 customers with out power.

Branch on lines up the road
Branch on lines other road
7:40pm It's starting to get dark. We lit some candles and shut off the lantern, we don't want to run the batteries out...We're usually up till 1 am, that's 4-5 more hours...I might go insane from the boredom.

8:37pm The boredom in the dark is so bad the hubby's changing lyrics to songs so they are about how we have no electricity.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Day before Irene - writen 8/27

The outer bands of the hurricane are just touching where we are even though the eye is still by the Carolinas. So what's there to do today...well there's making Italian squash and canning it. I need to do this before all my veggies go bad. What's Italian squash? It's a whole bunch of things thrown into a pot and cooked down to almost stew.

Italian Squash
Zucchini - 3 sliced cut in half if the rounds are to big
Yellow Squash - 4 cut same as the zucchini (I use more of these because I like them better :P )
Onion - 1
Garlic - 2 normal cloves or I used 1 elephant garlic clove because it was about equal to 2 normal cloves.
Green or Red Bell Pepper - 1 which ever you prefer
Tons of tomatoes - I think I used about 20 - peeled seeded and chopped
Bazil - 1 sprig
Italian Seasoning, Salt and Pepper to taste

Saute onion and garlic in a little olive oil till the onion is translucent. Add everything else and cook it until the squash is tender. Season to taste. It comes out like a stew and it's yummy.

I made a giant pot of this and ended up canning 7 jars and eating a small bowl. Once those were in the jars we sat outside between the rain bands shucking corn, 10 ears total. I took the corn off the cob and put it into 3 freezer containers.
With the food making out of the way we then had to finish getting ready for the storm. We filled three 5 gallon jugs with tap water and a gallon jug for a total of 23 gallons of water. We have been told that if we loose power it could be for a few days.

As we go into the night time the hurricane is approaching. Rain and wind is picking up. We've had to shovel the water from the walk a few times now. So far things are looking okay as far as the flooding goes. Time to move the kiddos downstairs on the couches and head to bed.

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Preparation - Written on 8/26

Preparation: The first phase before any big storm hits, is getting ready and being prepared. For us this took us two whole days of running around and digging. Digging? Yep digging. We have a few flooding problems. :S

Problem 1: A mole dug up under one of the window wells to the basement windows.
Solution: Replace the window well with a new larger (going deeper into ground) composite window well. For this we dug out the old metal one and then had to dig down about arms lenght to get the new one into the ground. We put all the dirt back.
Result: Sore body and still flooding. :(
Solution 2: A 40 lb. bag of dirt to regrade the land around the window well. Amazing how it never seems that the dirt you dug out is enough to put back.
Result 2: So far so good.

Problem 2: Run off from the roof has warn a small ditch in the flower bed where the river rock is and it causes flooding in that part of the yard.
Solution: Two days before the hurricane starts put in a french drain- more digging. This we kind of just did with no real rhyme or reason as to how it's suppose to be done. We dug a trench about 1 foot wide by 18-24 inches deep and 25 feet in length. (This made me really just want to go out and buy a small back hoe. I'm sure I could find other uses for it too.) For those who don't know New England, especially my yard, has very rocky soil. That combined with tree roots made this an especially tough and long day.
Result: Praying it works.

Problem 3: (Geesh, I know. I think this is the last one.) It's kind of the same as problem 2. Run off from the roof on the concrete walkway foods the walk and it will come up over the box of the house and into the basement.
Solution: Short term- (10) 40lb. bags of top soil. (Hey, it's cheaper than play sand and sand bags.)
Long term - Lay some new cement down to regrade the walk away from the house.
Result: Short term - Praying it holds back all the water we're suppose to get. So far we've been shoveling the pooling water out into the yard. :S

That's it. So outside of digging and dirt bagging (hehe, because we used dirt bags instead of sand bags.) It took us 3 stores to find batteries. We got 2 packs of D's that were the last ones anywhere. Bought 7 gallons of drinking water and some canned goods to eat if we loose power. House dirt bagged

Friday, September 2, 2011

Hurricane Irene Journaled

I lost power six days ago and finally got power back about 2 hours ago.  The hurricane knocked out power to half of Connecticut and it's taken forever to get power back. To deal with the loss of power and to keep myself from completely going insane from it I journal-ed about our experiences. I will be taking time over the next week or so to post my journal here and share this experience with you, from the getting ready and preparation phases, to during the storm, following the storm, the aftermath and what I learned and took from this whole ordeal, along with pictures of the aftermath.  I will share my frustrations and laughter with you.


Sunday, June 5, 2011

Opening Day at the Farms Market!!

Today was opening day at the farmers market (CRFM - Coventry Regional Farmers Market) and what fun it was! I absolutely love the farmers market. I grew addicted to it last year as we became regulars even visiting the winter market when weather permitted us. This year it was so nice to see some of the familiar face that we have come to know again this year.  There were also some new people we met there too. The people at the market are simply wonderful.

They are so friendly and social able, as are the dogs and their owners.  The kids want to pet every dog they come across, however if we did that we would never get anywhere. We have met some really nice dog owners who are kind enough to tell you what kind of dog they have and maybe a story or two about them.

Today we came across some really big dogs. I'm not sure how the owners do it but if that dog crawled into bed with you there wouldn't be much room left. I had to take a picture, the dog stands roughly waist high or higher.We also met some cute small dogs too. It's a wonderful dog friendly environment. The market only allows well behaved dogs. (Definitely a place for our dog as he is scared of his own shadow.)

I got some nice pictures of various thing at the market. Lavender from Fort Hill Farms, who is one of the Farmer's Cow farmers. We learned they have a great corn maze, gem mining and a discovery barn. They also host birthday parties.
Today I can say that "I licked the Farmer's Cow."  At least that's what the sticker says. I just get a giggle out of that every time I see/say it.  I know, you say I liked the "Farmer's Cow" and think "what?!" It's referring to Farmer's Cow Ice Cream and boy was it good today. The perfect day for some ice cream.

Ice cream, iced coffee, raspberry crumble, strawberries, kettle corn, pizzas, tacos, pulled pork sammies, muffins, cannolis, quiches, basil that is so good you can eat it while you walk, mint, carrots, soups, pasta, breads (both stuffed and not stuffed), pancakes and sausage (which was amazing), garlic, caramel you see where I am going with this. There is just too many good things to pass up.  I blame the farmers market for me having to exercise so much during the week. 

This is all just from this week alone...we'll just have to see what next week brings.

If you want to see more photos from today check out my Deviant Art page. :)

Monday, May 16, 2011

Trying to organize the disorganized

I will admit I am probably one of the most disorganized people. That being said we had an extra room in the house that we spontaneously decided to turn into and office/studio. My husband is an artist, who draws for a living, and then there is me, who crafts for a living (or at least tries to.)

The house was built in the 70's and hasn't been updated in any way other than some paint and a small addition, so yeah, the house is ugly.  I really hate the dark wood paneling. I hate the people who put it in originally even more.  (This house was built by the original owners who lived in it while building it so nothing in the house is right.)  They glued the darn paneling to the drywall...the drywall does not go over the duct work for the heat so there really is no way to take down the paneling with out having to re-drywall the entire house. My sad solution to this is......get ready for this one....paint the paneling.  Yeah I know painted paneling. Sounds bad huh?  Not really to bad actually. I've already painted the living room a nice light green apple color. The paneling kind of gives it that country feel.

PhotobucketThe color is going to be a nice yellow color, not to bright and not so light that it might as well be white.  We are completely rearranging the room too. The closet is going to be emptied and painted a bright white. A desk will be inserted in to the closet for under storage and then covered with a white cloth. Flood lamps will be placed in the closet and this is where I will be able to take all my photos. I plan to close off the closet with a white curtain so that I can hide it when not in use and then just pull the curtain back when I need to take photos.

We are doing all of this to try to take the best advantage of the space that we can, and to help weed out what we actually need and organize it all.  Big hopes for a very unorganized person. I fear that when it is all done I won't be able to find a thing.  It'll probably take a few weeks and I'll try my best to post in progress pictures. 

Thursday, May 5, 2011

No Garden is Complete Without Signs

I decided since things really started sprouting in the garden that it was time to make the garden pretty and actually make some signs for the boxes. Right now I am using the empty packet from the seeds to mark what is planted where, and those poor little packets are getting ratty from rain and water. We have tons of polymer clay laying around the house for those....I've gotta sculpt something urges.  We I got the urge to sculpt some little signs for the veggies.  I figured I would just do signs for things in the long boxes to start and see how that goes.

I found some sticks that I could use as holders and started sculpting. I kneaded and kneaded and rolled out and rough cut out some rectangles. I stamped the clay rectangles with letters and designs. They got put in the oven to bake then cool over night and this is what came out.

PhotobucketI decided to leave them rough because I felt that it would be a better fit in the garden if they weren't so polished looking. I want them to look a little imperfect. I went ahead and brushed a white coating/primer on them. (Wishing now that I had used the airbrush or a spray primer for a more even coverage. It might not have taken so many coats of some of the colors to get them even looking.)

PhotobucketOnce they looked all peaked it was time to decide on a base coat for each of them. This was the tough part. I wanted to color them to go along with the veggies but with SO many green veggies I was at a loss.  I used a few different shades of green that I had to give some variety to the green. There were also few that ended up with odd colors like pink and blue grey.

 Then I had to paint in the details. This was the tough part as some of the stamped parts were small. I had to use a really tiny brush, my favorite a citadel 0000, and lots of Liquitex Flowaid.  If you've never used Flowaid it's great. You mix it into your paint and it allows your paint to flow easily. I use a drop of paint to two small drops of Flowaid, mixed well, to get the paint to flow nicely from the brush and into the tiny indents of the stamped clay. Each one is different from each other. I didn't stamp any two the same.   The one problem I did have toward the end was that during the baking process some of the stick holes shrunk. To fix this I had to whittle away at some of the sticks till they fit in.  I must say that I am very happy with the way they turned out.

                                      They really brighten up the boxes and the garden!