Tuesday, June 1, 2010


Good morning everybody! How are you doing this first day of “tuck-your-head-between-your-legs-and-kiss-your-butt-goodbye-if-it-comes-your-way” hurricane season? I am sick to my stomach really… I HATE hurricane season. Granted, I love where I live, but I could really do without the threats of life altering natural disasters… got enough of that watching what my parents have had to go through the last 2 years almost!

So, having brought it up, I want to cover some information for hurricane season with all my readers, especially those who live on the gulf coast and face possible storm threats each year. NOAA (which is short for National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration… who is the most reliable and up-to-date weather center if you ask me) is predicting a very active year for storms… 14 to 23 Named Storms (top winds of 39 mph or higher), including: 8 to 14 Hurricanes (top winds of 74 mph or higher), of which: 3 to 7 could be Major Hurricanes (Category 3, 4 or 5; winds of at least 111 mph). You can read the whole outlook article HERE if you are interested (or worried). I suggest bookmarking NOAA’s main page so you have it for quick reference as well!

Now, there are a few things you can do to “be prepared”. Yea I know, you here everyone talking about it, but can you REALLY ever be prepared? I don’t think so… Mother Nature does what she pleases and no human force is going to stop her. However, there are some forms of preparation that can be useful in the event of a storm. Some storms will knock out power, water, lights, etc. When IKE came through, we were out of power for about 2 weeks at my house… longer in other places. My first recommendation is to have a Hurricane supply box. In this box there are some very common things that will be useful in the event of a storm and you decide to stay in your home (either it’s a “minor/smaller” storm or you are just too stubborn and hard headed to leave- LIKE ME!). Here is a list of things you should have in your box(es).

Canned goods and non-perishable food items (2 week supply)
Canned meats, fish, fruit, veggies, puddings, soups, juice, bread, crackers, cookies, peanut butter & jelly, coffee, tea, dry milk, jerky, ready meals, dry cereal, chips, etc.
Bottled water (min. 5-7 gallons per person per day- 1 week)
Prescription medicines (2 weeks)
Manual can opener
Pet food
Disposable plates, cups, napkins, utensils
Paper towels and toilet paper
Duct tape
2 First aid kits (one for home/one for car) (containing): Boxes of allergy medicine, cough syrup, cough drops, Tylenol or ibuprofen, 6 bottles of hydrogen peroxide, 6 bottles of rubbing alcohol, large box of baby wipes, baby powder, eye drops, Band-Aids, rolls of gauze, gauze pads, medical tape, antibacterial ointment (Neosporin, etc), cotton balls, Imodium AD, Qtips, burn cream, scissors, tweezers, rubber gloves, etc.
Maxi pads and/or tampons
Ziploc bags
Antibacterial hand sanitizer
Anti-heartburn medicine (Tums)
Portable Radio (battery operated)
Clock (battery operated)
Candles and matches
Insect repellant
Plastic dish pans/tubs (for hand sanitizing and other sanitation purposes)
Plastic garbage bags
Lanterns and candle-powdered hurricane lamps
Camping stove and propane tanks
Plywood (for boarding doors & windows)
Clean sheets and bedding (blankets, pillows, sleeping bags, etc)
Clothing and shoes
Staple or nail gun with supplies
Ice chests
Fire Extinguisher
Extra cash, credit cards, insurance papers, etc.
Full gas tank in vehicle
Map of evacuation route
Toys and games, etc. for children
Tools-(hammer, screwdriver, battery operated drills, wrenches and pliers, screws, nails, razor knife, rope, Bungee cords, rolls of plastic, tarps, rake, shovel, wheelbarrow)
Grill, charcoal, & lighter fluid
Wet weather clothing
Disposable Camera & extra film (or a digital camera & extra batteries)
Dust masks/covers
Spare set of house and car keys
Cards, books, games, etc
Valuables and irreplaceable items packed in Rubbermaid totes

The one good thing I can say about hurricanes is that, unlike in the old days, we have a bit more time to prepare. The Storm of 1900 killed thousands, destroyed everything in sight almost because they had no time to prepare... no warning system. Today we have notice when they form, and can guesstimate a path, and get busy getting ready! Granted, a few days are by no means enough time to secure your whole life… and it will always be devastating. But at least you will HAVE your life still if nothing else.

I have my boxes packed in Rubbermaid totes in my pantry. Each June 1st, I go through them and replace anything I used in the “off months”. I have a fully stocked first aid kit (which I used a BIG Craftsman tool box), a 18 gallon tote full of supplies, an 18 gallon tote of kitty supplies, the cat carriers, 2 bags of charcoal for my grill (and lighter fluid, etc), and a couple of HUGE empty water bottles to fill. All these things stay located in the same spot all season long. I buy special foods for a specially designated “Hurricane shelf” on the first as well… all the non-perishables like canned meats, pastas, pop tarts, granola bars, etc (saves room in the box LOL). I also have all our prescriptions in another plastic toolbox ready to go. Some say I am TOO prepared, but when IKE came our way… for being just after a major disaster, it wasn’t too hard (unlike for others unfortunately). I told the kids to act like we were camping. I know, I probably ruined them for life on the idea of camping, but hey it worked at the time!

I HIGHLY recommend a charcoal grill. For one, lots of people have RV’s, which have propane tanks for water heaters, etc. Many people also have propane camp stoves, and other propane operated items. So in a time of crisis, propane might be in extremely high demand but limited supply! Whereas, with a charcoal grill, light the briquettes and you are good to go! AND if you run out of briquettes, you can use fire wood (maybe even from fallen trees), etc. And don’t worry… you can do everything from grill to fry on a charcoal grill. Granted, frying is a bit more challenging LOL, but it CAN be done! I know, I fried up tons of fish for my parents during IKE. I also made pancakes, breakfast tacos, and coffee! Anything can be done on a grill if you are prepared with the right tools! Mom believes in not keeping the freezers stocked during the summer months (in the event of a disaster). I particularly don’t mind it. I had the deep freezer completely jam packed. Everything was rock hard solid, and even when the power went out, it kept very cold the whole time. We cooked stuff on the grill as it thawed so nothing went to waste. And when mom & dad brought me the fish they had in THEIR freezer, I seasoned it and grilled some, fried some (with some veg oil in my wok ON the grill), etc. Turned out pretty good actually! That’s how I got my DH to like fish LOL! You should have seen his face the first time I boiled water on the grill and made him some coffee and cocoa with breakfast LMAO! So see, I even have a few good memories out of a bad situation. But unfortunately, I have more bad ones… some still with me to this day.

Now if you have pets, I recommend a supply box for them as well. Depending on the type of animal you have, the contents will vary. BUT, I am going to share with you my box for my kitties. In this 18 gallon Rubbermaid tote, I have:

Disposable Litter pans
Cat litter
Paper bowls
Plastic forks or spoons
Canned cat food
Canned tuna
Jarred baby food meats
Dry cat food
Catnip toys
Bottled water
Paper or blue shop towels

Now you may be cocking your eyebrow and looking at the screen funny right now, BUT let me explain a couple of those things. Animals get very anxious and nervous when traveling and even more when storms are coming. They are hypersensitive to atmospheric changes. This box is designed if you must evacuate. The bowls are to put food and water in and the silverware to get the food out of the cans. The canned and dry cat foods are self explanatory. BUT sometimes, if an animal is stressed, it will not eat its regular food. You must have and try other things. So the canned tuna comes first, and if that doesn’t work, then the baby food. That works almost every time! Same thing when cats are sick. Get small jars of baby food meats and that will help them eat most of the time. The pedialyte is to make sure they get enough electrolytes and prevent dehydration. Mom calls it “Kitty Magic Water” and believe me, it works! I recommend the blue shop towels over the paper ones because they absorb more, and nothing is worse than an accident in the carrier getting all over kitty and spilling out onto your car seat! YUCK! There are probably a few other things in the box as well, but this is the basic stuff. Remember you can change the contents according to what type of animal you own. But please PLEASE PLEASE… don’t leave your little friends behind if at all possible! Wild outside animals can survive, but our inside babies cannot! Be a responsible pet owner. Thanks!

Alright, let’s talk about the first aid kit. Now it’s my firm belief that everyone, whether you have “medical training” or not, should have a fully stocked medical kit at all times. Especially if you have kids! Now the list calls for the following things, and you might be asking why on some of them, so let me explain and add to that list.

Boxes of allergy medicine- storms stir up a lot of dust, pollen, etc. and if you have allergies its good to have this. ALSO, storm rain brings mosquitoes and other bugs which bite and make you itch. Allergy meds stop the itching!

6 bottles of hydrogen peroxide, 6 bottles of rubbing alcohol, large box of baby wipes- all of these items are for sterilizing hands and items you use. Baby wipes can be used as “sponge bathing” aids in the event you have no water. The sad fact is that when it floods and storms, there is tons of pollutants floating around. You HAVE to keep things sterile to prevent very bad infections… some infections can be fatal if they get too bad! I also recommend placing a large, or some smaller bottles of Purell or other antibacterial hand sanitizer in there as well!

baby powder- this keeps the skin dry believe it or not, and when you are sweating with no AC, you want to keep the moisture at bay to prevent terrible and PAINFUL heat rashes! In addition, I would advise putting some Boudreaux’s Butt Paste in your kit too… in case you do get a bad rash, let me tell ya it will clear it up super quick! Laugh at the name all you want, but I testify to this stuff! Just like you powder a baby… baby yourself too!

Maxi pads and/or tampons- ok you may be thinking WTF is this for!? Well… god forbid you get impaled by a piece of flying debris or gushing wound! Emergency medical personnel may not be able to get to you immediately due to other life threatening calls, flood waters, etc. Paper towels and such only soak up so much blood. You use the maxi pads and tampons to stop the bleeding without using up your supply of paper towels, Band-Aids, etc! After all, that IS what they’re made for… large amounts of blood! Say you get a large cut, apply pressure to control the bleeding, place a maxi pad over the wound, and tape it down good. Its clean, covered, and the pad doesn’t stick to the wound… which means NO reopening it! Pretty smart, huh?

cough syrup, cough drops, Tylenol or ibuprofen, eye drops, Band-Aids, rolls of gauze, gauze pads, medical tape, antibacterial ointment (Neosporin, etc), cotton balls, Imodium AD, Qtips, burn cream, scissors, tweezers, rubber gloves, etc. – all this is pretty much for exactly what you think it is for… self-explanatory. Now instead of the burn cream, I actually stock packs of a burn item called Xeroform. It is a foil packet with this thin sheet of gauze like material that is covered in yellow cream which feels like petroleum jelly. You just cut however big or small a piece you need and close the foil pouch back up. It works really well.

Now that we have covered first aid, cooking, pets, and even tracking… you are asking what’s next aren’t you? LOL. Well just basic things really. Plywood is to cover your windows, tools are to fix things once the storm has passed, you get the idea. I do have a few tips to help you in the event you stay during the storm.

1. Park your car facing the direction the storm is coming from. You will get less damage (like ripped off wipers, etc) when you “act like you are driving into it”. Winds and such will roll over the top… just like when you are driving!

2. Tie everything down outside or bring it in. A common mistake people make is just leaving the things outside unsecured. In fact, your outside items can be just as deadly a flying object as a broken tree branch. And if you can’t tie it down, then bring it inside, put it under the house, etc. You also help to lessen the chance of uncovered windows being broken by flying debris!

3. Have a kid box or bag (provided you HAVE kids)… especially for evacuations! In it, stock crayons, coloring pages/books, non-electronic games or games with plenty of batteries, snacks, and movies (if you have a portable DVD player). Bubbles, car games, anything to divert their little minds is a good thing! You can have one main box, or pack each kid a duffle designed specifically for their likes. I make duffles (yes I literally sew them myself LOL- hey it’s more frugal!) for each kid. Alex has lots of batteries for his MP3 player (he loves his music), coloring books I printed out and made, plenty of colors, some of his pokemon toys, etc. Madison has more age appropriate stuff… MP3, chargers for phones, Nintendo DS, etc., travel board games, etc. Also in each bag, I have a couple bottles of water and some Kool-Aid or Lemonade sticks that you just pour into the bottled water… depending on what each kid likes. Individual snack packs of crackers, cookies, bags of chips, fruit bars, etc… again according to each child’s preference. The less stressed they are, the less stressed YOU are!

So see, there are SOME ways to “prepare” for a storm. Its never easy, but it can be easier to deal with if you are ready! So now, normally I bring you a craft idea each day… today is no exception. BUT it is going to be kind of related to this day of days. Duffle bags! I just talked about how I make my duffle bags for the kids to pack an evacu-bag. If you live somewhere that hurricanes are not an issue, then you could easily use these for overnight stays, vacations, etc. Make sure to visit the website for step by step photo instructions!

Craft Idea of the Day: Duffle Bags

Download the pattern (PDF format)

A mini duffel bag for carrying whatever you want. You could use this as a purse, an airplane carry-on or for a more specific purpose, such as my sewing bag made with print of old-fashioned sewing ads.


3/4 yard of outside fabric
3/4 yard of sturdy fabric (like twill)
3 yards of webbing for handles or a strip of fabric at least 1.5 yards long
2- 14" zippers
2- 7" zippers
3" of 1/2" velcro
matching thread.


Step 1: Sew the two #1 pieces of fabric together at the bottom (the long side). Use a 1/2" seam allowance. Press the seam allowance open and do the same for the lining/sturdy fabric pieces.
Step 2: Line up the fabric body and the lining body, right sides OUT. They baste together or zig-zag stitch around the edges.
Step 3: Sew the lining and fabric pieces #2 along one end, with the right sides together. Use a 1/2" seam allowance.
Step 4:Flip the piece right sides out and topstitch along the seam. Then baste or zig-zag stitch the rest of the piece together The reverse side for step 4.
Steps 5-9 are to make straps out of fabric. If you are using webbing, skip to step 10. Step 5: Cut out strap fabric. You need two strips of fabric, 3" wide by 1.5 yards long. (Or shorter if you want shorter straps).
Step 6: Take each strip and press in 1/2 lengthwise, right side out.
Step 7: Open up the strip and press the edges into the center.
Step 8: Now fold in the center again and press.
Step 9: Edgestitch along each side.
Step 10: Make one giant circle (not two circles) of strapping, stitching the two pieces end to end with zigzag stitching. Make sure you don't incorporate any twists.
Step 11: Align the joined ends of the strapping on the middle seam of the bag body (indicated by the arrows).
Step 12: Mark the strap 2.5" from the edge. Stitch on the strap following the topstitching on the strap (or where it would be if you used webbing). The stitching pattern is more apparently looking at the back (next photo). The stitching pattern used to attach the straps. It may help to use an iron-on basting tape (like Stitch Witchery) rather than pins to hold the straps in place while stitching.
Step 13: Make "lashing points" to cover up the raw strapping edges. Cut 2 of piece 7 out of either fabric or lining fabric. Fold the edges under (1/4" allowance) and press.
Step 14: Place the lashing points over the raw strapping edges.... ... and topstitch in place.
Step 15: Remembering the "right sides together" mantra, pin and sew a 7" zipper to the top edge of fabric piece # 4.
Step 16: Same deal, sew the top piece #5 to the zipper. Your end should look like this now.
Step 17: Pin the lining piece #5 to the zipper, but on the other side, and sew in place. When you fold both up both piece #5's, the zipper tape will be in the middle. (see step 19 for the finished look).
Step 18: Repeat on with lining piece #4.
Step 19: Fold all the pieces away from the zipper and press. See step 21 for the back view.
Step 20: Topstitch on both sides of the zipper.
Step 21: Move the zipper pull into the middle and stitch across both ends of the zipper tape. The back view at this point.
Step 22: Trim off the excess zipper tape.
Step 23: Lay a lining piece and fabric piece #6 right sides together and stitch with a 3/8" seam allowance around the center. Clip the curve and turn right side out. Press.
Step 24: Lay the zippered piece one top of one bag end (piece # 3). In the picture they don't line up exactly, but I've fixed the pattern so they should line up better in your bag.
Step 25: Lay the border circle over the top. Topstitch along the inner circle (the arrow is pointing to the topstitching). Zigzag stitch around the outer edge. Be sure to keep the zipper pull in the middle until you're finished.
Step 26: Sew the two 14" zippers to the top piece (from piece #2). Put the open end of the zippers at the finished edge. Remember, right sides together. Trim the seam allowance (but not the zipper tape!) to less than 1/2".
Step 27: Press the seam allowance under so the zippers lie flat.
Step 28: Fold the top edge for the zipper tape over the seam allowance and baste in place.
Step 29: Topstitch 1/4" and 1/2" away from the zipper. The seals the unfinished side edges under the zipper tape.
Step 30: Stitch a 3" strip of velcro (sticky half) to the underside of this piece between the opening end of the zippers (see step 33 for a picture).
Step 31: Fold piece #8 in half and sew up the sides with a 1/2" seam allowance.
Step 32: Turn right side out and topstitch. Stitch a 3" piece of velcro (the soft half) The other side looks like this.
Step 33: Attach the top to the bag sides. Sew the other sides of the zipper to the bag piece. Remember, right sides together. Note that becasue the finished edge of the top already has the seam allowance tucked under, the top is 1/2" shorter than the bag. So line up the unfinished edge (the one w/o velcro).
Step 34: Repeat for the other side. Now you have a barrel.
Step 35: Trim the seam allowance to less than 1/2" inch (so it is smaller than the zipper tape).
Step 36: As you did for the top piece, topstitch the zipper tape to the bag 1/4" and 1/2" away from the zipper.
Step 37: Slightly gather the ends of the bag. Do this by stitching two lines of stitching with a large stitch length very close to the end. Then pull the bobbin thread so it gathers the fabric, as below. Also, trim off the extra zipper tape at the ends. To gather the fabric, stitch two lines of stitching with a large stitch length very close to the end. Then pull the bobbin thread so it gathers the fabric, as below.
Step 38: Making sure the orientation of the pocket it corrent, pin the bag end. Start with the closed zipper end. Then stitch the end to the bag with a 1/2" seam allowance. Turn the bag right side out to make sure you are happy with the stitch, and if so, stitch again very close to the seam to make sure it is secure.
Step 39: For the open zipper end, stitch piece #8 to the bag end at the top, using a 1/2" seam allowance. The velcro will face down at this point.
Step 40: Now stitch this end to the open zipper end of the bag as in step 38. The velcro from piece #8 should stick to the velcro on the top piece.
Step 41: Use seam binding or double fold wide bias tape to finish the edges. Attach with a zigzag stitch.
Step 42: Handstitch the piece #8 to the bound seam to keep it in place. Another view of step 42. You bag is now finished! Hooray!

There are also a bunch of other great duffle bag patterns at About.com and Crafters.Org

OK folks… its time. Time to munch! Now, its chicken & pie week as you may know, so today I am going to show you a fabulous recipe for the drumstick and/thigh pieces of chicken.

Bacon-Roasted Chicken with Potatoes


6 chicken thighs
6 chicken drumsticks
12 slices center-cut bacon
salt and black pepper to taste
1 onion, coarsely chopped
1 1/2 pounds baby Dutch yellow potatoes

Seasoning Mix:

2 tablespoons dried chives
2 tablespoons dried basil
1 tablespoon garlic powder
1 tablespoon adobo seasoning
1 tablespoon ground black pepper
1 teaspoon salt, or to taste


Preheat oven to 400 degrees F (200 degrees C).

Wrap each chicken piece in a slice of bacon, trying to cover as much of the chicken as possible. Place the wrapped chicken pieces in a 9x13 inch baking dish, season with salt and pepper, and sprinkle the onion over the chicken. Push potatoes down into the spaces between the chicken pieces and around the edge of the dish.

Combine the chives, basil, garlic powder, adobo seasoning, and black pepper in a small bowl, and sprinkle the seasoning to taste over the chicken and potatoes.

Bake in the preheated oven for 1 hour, until the bacon is crisp and brown and the potatoes are tender. Sprinkle with salt, if desired, and serve hot.

Mocha Walnut Pie


1 recipe pastry for a 9 inch single crust pie
2 (1 ounce) squares unsweetened chocolate
1/4 cup butter
1 tablespoon instant coffee powder
1 (14 ounce) can sweetened condensed milk
2 eggs, beaten
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup walnuts


Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).

In medium saucepan, melt chocolate and butter or margarine over low heat. Dissolve coffee in 1/4 cup hot water, then stir it into saucepan with sweetened condensed milk, eggs, and vanilla. Mix well. Pour filling into pastry shell. Top with walnuts.

Bake for 40 to 45 minutes, or until center is set. Cool.

Ok gang, I gotta get off here and get the day started. I hope my little Gulf Coast friends can use some of this information wisely. And to everyone, be safe in today’s adventures! See you tomorrow… HUGS!


  1. Debbie "MOM"June 1, 2010 at 9:33 AM

    Excellent blog today. I hope and pray that anyone who lives near a coast anywhere either here or down in Mexico or up in New England will read this blog. Hurricanes are just one of the devastating natural events that can occur and disrupt your life. And if you read closely you will see that this preparation can cover tornadoes, earthquakes, floods, and any other weather events that might happen. We all need to be prepared and these lists of preparations really do come in handy because lets face it......the government takes a while to get help to you so why not be as self-sufficient as much as you can. And thats my opinion on that. Please be prepared for your pets as well. A few years ago we had to evacuate for Hurricane Rita and I had eight kitties to evacuate. Unfortunately I lost one of my little girl kitties from stress and dehydration from her vomitting along the way. As much care and many stops to water them, she still didn't make it. We arrived at our destination and I had to bury her in a strange place but at least I know I did try. I hate thinking of that time. There have been a couple of more hurricanes since then and each experience makes me be more prepared for kitty evacuations. And let me tell you, outside kitties are hard to get in a carrier and keep calm. I would suggest just making sure they have plenty of food and water put on a high counter or table in a sheltered area where they can be safe and dry because these little angels can turn into wild tigers if you try to force them to do anything against their nature. Trust me, I have the scars to prove it. Ok, got alot of improvement projects I want to start, including making my evacuation kits, so til next time.......

  2. Those are great things to have on hand, Renee. I also think these things would also come in handy for people in other areas of the country. Here in California those would work for our Earthquake kits. Other places for Tornadoes, Flooding, or other storms you may get. Thank you for all the great ideas Renee.