Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Winter Storm Survival

It is that time of year again.
 The snow is falling as I speak.
With the last few snow storms have come various power outages in our area.
  We are not effected by such a crisis since we are off-grid. 
Checking in with our neighbors, they are all snug and cozy around a warm wood burning stove, 
or are comfortably watching TV because they have a backup generator.

However, outside our little redneck community, some folks might not be faring so well. 
I remember an ice storm many years ago that left most of the Northwest stranded 
without power for more than a week.

People died.

Truth is, a little preparation goes a long ways.

I have been thoroughly indoctrinated by my dear sweet friend, Enola Gay,
and thus, have a handle on some simple preparations that may make life possible and bearable
during a winter storm in which one loses power for great lengths of time.

First, one must have a non-electric heat source.
A few clicks, and I'm on the Lowe's web page,
where a person can get a very affordable (around $50.00) portable propane heater.  
This burner fixes onto a propane tank, of which can be refilled for about $14.
  We have one of these and we like it very much.

Secondly,  a wise woman would put away water. 
 Juice jugs and milk cartons work great. 
 One gallon per person, per day.
  A drop or two of bleach in each gallon will keep the water good for a great length of time.

I asked my friend, Jana, Who lives in Connecticut and has been dealing with storm after storm  this month, what she advises, here is her response:
  • "What we found that we CANNOT live without over the past 3 years is a generator. We have a well, and the pump is electric. We have lost power 4 times, for a week at a time, over the past 3 years. Living without water was the hardest part. Last year, during the freak ice-storm we had in October, my husband had enough and borrowed the money to buy a decent generator. That alone was worth it's weight in gold! These days we take for granted little things like washing your hands and flushing the toilet!
    We also now have a weather radio.....the only contact with the outside world when telephone service and internet is out. Sandy toppled many of our cell towers, so service was splotchy at best. We also stocked up on food items that didn't need refrigeration, just in case the generator was damaged. Even things like rice are terrific to bulk up a meal, and can be cooked so easily over a fire or on the grill!"

Third, put by a selection of food that can be eaten without cooking.
Keep it in a box or Rubbermaid tote and store it in an out of the way place,
so that it does not get used except for in the emergency. 
Canned tuna, canned chicken, pork and beans, and canned fruit, would be my choice staples.

Make sure you own a manual can opener.  

I would add to that, granola bars, (or the like), crackers, trail mix, peanut butter, 
and preferably, chocolate. :-).

  But better yet, a simple camp stove of some sort, readily available for $20 and up,
 would increase the capacity to stick out a long storm well.  
The same propane source can be used for the stove, 
or smaller propane bottles stored would be even better.

Then, you have hot food and drink, which can make all the difference in the world.

If such was the case, canned soups, tea, coffee, instant potatoes and gravy, 
 and all kinds of wonderful things could be put away in the emergency food box. 
Start with a nice variety of foods to last three days, and build up from there.

Lastly, gather a few other items to put in the box;
 a flashlight,
and don't forget the MATCHES!

These are the most basic of survival gear that I believe every household should contain.

A wise woman prepares.

She might also consider not only the ways of her own household,
but be ready to extend much needed hospitality to an unprepared neighbor.
My husband tells of a time growing up that his family and two other families came together
in one house for over a week during a winter storm. 
Because of one wise woman's thoughtful preparations,
the three families had a week long party that endeared them to each other to this day.

"She stretches out her hand to the poor, she reaches out her hand to the needy. 
She is not afraid of the snow for her household; for all her household is clothed in scarlet.  She looketh well to the ways of her household and eateth not the bread of idleness.
Her children rise up and call her blessed, her husband also, and he praises her."  
Prov. 31:20,21,27,28

My own recollections from childhood include those happy days
of no school due to bad weather and power outages.
 My mom,
(the beautiful petite white haired lady you often see here)
 would make the most of it.
At the first indication of a bad storm, she would fill the bathtub with water for flushing.
When the power went out, she would light candles and lanterns all about,
 creating a warm glowing room,
 of which I am especially fond of to this day.
We would then declare it a holiday and make forts in the living room and pop corn in the fireplace.
We didn't just survive,
she made it a beautiful experience.

The next time the power goes out,
and you bring out the propane heater and camp stove, 
warm up some soup and boil water for cocoa,
your children will rise up and praise you and your husband will kiss you,
and you will be happy that you made the effort. 

This post dedicated to all those in the East, especially my friend,
Jana Lynn,
 who has undergone massive power outages since Hurricane Sandy.
 Jana is a wise woman, therefore, her family has survived the storms comfortably.
Blessings to you, Jana!

For more preparedness information,
my friend, The Queen of prepping, Enola Gay and all her wisdom,
as well as some really cute kidlets and fantastic recipes,
 can be found here.

Friday, November 9, 2012

First Snow

As the first snowflakes of the season fall,

the tradition begins,
 with the children crafting paper snowflakes....

 ...and as if that wasn't fun enough,
 we then make the sugar cookies.
Every year the same,
 but different.


Messy kitchen,
happy kids.
it has been a great day!

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Wedding Preparations

With less than three weeks until Anna and Scott's wedding, 
we are making all the final preparations, mapping these last days out.
 We have done our research and tried to find the best bargains available
 to make the most of our wedding budget.

Our flowers are coming from Costco online, 
where you can buy flowers, or in our case, 
pale pink roses, 
by the hundred.  

Since Anna is a regular candle-holic, and a die hard romantic, 
we will have plenty of candles for the wedding decor. 
 I looked and looked for the best buy on bulk candles, 
and came up with quickcandle.com, where one can buy 2x6 pillar candles for $2.50 a peice, 
and other such wondrous finds.

We have rented tablecloths, at long last, finding Blue Ribbon laundry to have the best price.
The china, punch cups, and chaffing dishes are from AtoZ rental
I have asked the wedding coordinator to pick those up for us the day before the wedding.

I bought the flower girl dresses on ebay, quick and easy, 
and having made my order, found the dresses to fit perfectly. 
The key to ebay is finding the right phrase for searching.  
"short sleeve flower girl dress"  ended up to be the best method to find dresses with sleeves. 

Anna found simple, modest, sensibly priced bridesmaid dresses at A Formal Choice. 
The dresses are beautifully made and fit well. 
After shopping all over, resorting to much prayer, 
I bought my Mother of the Bride dress at a wedding shop. 
 I just could not find anything long and flowy, which was what I really desired. 

Anna bought her veil and a portrait collar for her dress from Tidebuy.  
Although most wedding shops only carry strapless dresses, 
there are several online places to purchase 
short jackets,
 lace overlays 
and portrait collars 
if a bride desires more fabric for a modest and original look.

JC Penny has the most variety of wedding style shoes we could find, 
not to mention the sales people in both locations where we shopped were super nice, 
letting us put shoes on hold while we scouted through the mall 
to see if there was anything better to be found,
 which, by the way, 
there wasn't.

Pinterest is a treasure trove of wedding ideas to 
inspire and motivate,
 copy and mimic.

YouTube has great how to videos for just about everything relating to weddings. 
 Do it yourself flowers, centerpiece ideas, church decorations and hairstyle how to's.

The flower girl baskets we bought at Amazon, 
as well as the isle runner, napkins, and flower petals.

The guest book and hurricane lanterns for the centerpieces were purchased at Hobby Lobby
a 50% off coupon. 

Oh, the fun of getting box after box by UPS or FedEx nearly everyday! 
 We try to keep something yummy on hand to share with the drivers, 
whom I am sure are tiring of trekking down our long driveway.

We have borrowed tulle, Christmas lights, silver service, crystal, 
and other lovely items from everyone I can think of.  
Putting together a simple yet elegant wedding has been oodles of fun for me, as I enjoy event planning.  Anticipation of seeing it all come together is building day by day.

Last week, Brian and I spent three hours at the church mapping out how we are going to hang all the decorations for the reception and such, making a list for the hardware store as we went.
This week I am ordering flowers, making the ring pillow, finalizing out of town guest arrangements, handing out punch bowls and recipes to all the ladies who have graciously consented to bring food, 
and breathing deeply.
Next week I will do the grocery shopping for the reception and the week of the wedding..
having planned crockpot or freezer meals and paper plates all week, and through the weekend,
well, except Thanksgiving day, 
  Then, I plan on ironing all the wedding clothes and tableclothes, hanging them all up with plastic covers.  Then we will clean the house top to bottom. 
and then, I will drink a good amount of my favorite relaxing tea and eat chocolate.
The week of the wedding, we will be decorating since the church is available all week:  Monday the sanctuary and dining hall, Tuesday the reception hall and Wednesday, anything else that didn't get done, hopefully not a lot since we will be preparing for Thanksgiving here at Providence Lodge. 
 Friday we may have some out of town guests over for lunch, then the rehearsal and dinner.   
The Wedding! 

 Sunday hanging out with whomever is still around,
 and Monday loading the moving van to haul Anna's belongings off to her new home. 

Then we will crash, no doubt, in a tumultuous mixture of happiness, exhaustion, and tears; 
for my eldest has just moved out on his own, 
our daughter will have left for her new home,
 and our baby will turn two. (boohoo).
There is no doubt in my mind that as happy as I am now,
those issues of transition for this mama's heart will work their way out,
and I will need plenty of tissue and comfort food on hand.
In the meantime, though, we are delighted and overjoyed for this young couple
whom God has brought together. 
And we know, most thoroughly, that

Together is a wonderful place to be.

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Savoring Saturdays

Autumn rains pouring forth outdoors,
wood fire crackling inside,
the lodge is hushed from the usual comradere of littles,
  and the clamor of a big household.
 I adore Saturdays.
 This is the day of the week I often look forward to the most.
 The day where my cozy, nesty side comes out
and gets to putter about, which I find romantic.

First of all, I love Saturdays because it is a great opportunity to pamper my family a bit.
The children get to sleep in.
This means a quiet, slow morning for me,
(and Olivia, who is always my alarm clock being the morning person she is).
The boys awaken to the weekly radio programs at Moody Radio,
 which they listen to in their room
while I make the children a big ol breakfast full of scrumptious yummies
to celebrate the arrival of the weekend.
We have worked hard all week,
and today is a special day
unlike the other weekdays.

I take great comfort in this a weekly ritual.
It is something to look forward to.
We are creating something special and beautiful out of the ordinary.
I like that.

Few things in life give me more pleasure than setting a nice table for my family,
and filling it with homemade food.

My boys think hashbrowns or fried potatoes are one of the most marvelous of foods.
Therefore, each Saturday breakfast will be slightly different, but always contain potatoes.
This week, a hearty  skillet breakfast and fresh milk for starters.

Today my pampering included Doughnuts...hot from the oven.
They are incredibly easy to make and have fast become a favorite in our home.
First the dough.

Then the frying.

 Next the glaze.

  At last into mouths!

The little ones have their own Saturday rituals as well.
 We have a special music CD they only listen to this day.
 It is full of Sunday School songs and Bible Club songs like we sang when I was growing up.
 They start their day dancing.
 They sing.

  They play dress up.
They take turns hiding.
They sense this is a special play day, and make the most of it.

The second reason I love Saturdays is this:
After breakfasting, each child  is given a housecleaning chore.
 Saturdays are for housecleaning,
 and we all work together to get the job done.
 By each one taking a chore, we get the majority of the work done in around an hour.
  This day, Rose and Caleb cleaned the kitchen,
 Joe folded and put away the laundry...which had been stacking up on the couch upstairs..
so quite a pile for him!
 Jim vacuumed the rugs and helped Ben with the bathrooms.
 Bethany, Gabe and even Olivia get in the spirit
and help wash surfaces such as the frig, dining chairs, doors and door handles, light switches.
  I sweep and mop.
Then go about finishing my list;
 washing windows, dusting, changing beds, tidying surfaces,
setting out a different table centerpiece, rearranging this and that,
what I call puttering.
This again is one reason I love Saturdays.
The house getting clean and tidy,
 restored to order and thus beautified,
  a marvelous part of homemaking that I take great joy in.
Making a clean and lovely home for my family is giving (it, the home) life.
It is this spirit of a home that the wife and mama makes,
filling the house with her own spirit,
 and pouring out a sweet pleasant fragrance,
 which is a ministry to her family and all who enter.

The children, done with their chores, return to their play, or watch a movie,
 leaving me, again, in relative quiet.
Often, I find this the perfect opportunity for that
time alone with God
 that I have been needing.
Time to write in my journal of 1000 gifts,
time to reflect and make sure my heart is right.
Here is my third reason for my love and anticipation of a beautiful Saturday at home,
rarely during the week do I find this kind of time available to me for the taking.
Aaaah, God is good!

The evening is made up of a simple dinner,
 baths for the littles,
clothing laid out and ironed for Sunday,
and all to bed early, so that we are prepared and rested for the Lord's Day.

Here is the why of our Saturday rituals:
It is the way we live each day of our life that make up the tone and color of how we live in this world.
We can make it to be vivid and rich, sweet and pleasant,
 or not.

JR Miller writes it so well,
"What is true of our individual lives is true also of our homes.  
We are making memories day by day and year by year,
 and what they shall be in the future  will depend 
on the home life we are living now."

God created women to give life,
 to be helpmeets,
to nurture,
to imitate Him in beautifying all that is around us.
 When we seek to cultivate these passions He has built in us,
we find that contentment, that peace, that inner joy that delights in the smallest things.
And there, as these aspects grow and flourish,
overflowing from what is in our hearts all along, out to our families,
we live in the beauty of the Lord.

Living Counter Cultural: Femininity

Popular culture has a decidedly feminist bent.  Recent movies, tv shows and prominent women  are displaying heroins as   to...