Friday, May 27, 2011

What's in your tornado kit?

I know we moved to the midwest but the reality of being in "tornado alley" has only just begun to sink in for this solidly northeastern girl. 

While Michael was still at work on Wednesday in his nice, cozy basement office (I'm not sure he feels that way on normal weather days), and while Pep and I sat at home, a string of very severe weather began to make its way through our area. The meteorologists has been predicting it for days, telling St Louis residents that the conditions were "very favorable" for tornadoes. We were placed in the "high-risk" area on the national map and I was ready with the TV on, to watch the action unfold. Unfortunately, nothing else was prepared. 

You see, up until this point, while we had been under tornado warnings on past bad weather days, and the sirens had blared before, there had never been anything resembling a tornado heady towards our house. And as I am sure you are all aware, the terrible tragedy that happened the past week in Joplin, MO has scared everyone into being a bit more diligent.

Wednesday was a different story though. I had the TV blaring while frantically cleaning (the nervous energy of tornado warnings makes me a great cleaner!) when I heard that there was rotation in the atmosphere and a funnel cloud had been spotted just a few miles south of our house in the shopping area that I frequent daily. At this point, the TV announcer suggested that anyone in the path of this particular cell move to the basement, naming our neighborhood in his list. 

Then I thought, "Oh, Crap! I have nothing ready!". Thankfully, we were still a bit away from the funnel cloud, and the TV was predicting that we would have 17 minutes before anything would be close. What better time to prepare an emergency kit, really?

So, here's my 15 minute tornado kit ended up looking like:

1. Sneakers (with the nasty pair of socks that I've been wearing all week to work out in. Sorry, I only own two pair, so new pairs are doled out sparingly.), cause shiny gold flip-flops just won't cut it.

2. Water
3. Food (a banana and a granola bar)
4. Mag Lite flashlight (I hope Preston isn't reading this, and if you're reading this Cayley, don't show it to him. He left it at my house 8 or so years ago and I never got it back to him.) with a pack of extra batteries.

5. Money, credit cards, insurance cards, etc
6. Phone
7. A sweater
8. Kitten in his carrier

9. Kitten food and treats
10. A book (specifically Jonathan Safran Foer's Everything is Illuminated)

Funny story about Pep and the carrier: 
He actually jumped in the carrier as soon as I pulled it out. While he doesn't like being shut in it the carrier, he does think it's quite a comfy bed to lay on (as you can see in the picture above, taken later in the evening before I got around to putting it away). So after he willingly jumped in his carrier I zipped it up and continued with my frantic packing. I opened the door to the basement to get a baggie of his food out of the stairwell closet and heard a loud "Meow" fly by me down the stairs. It seems that Pepin was worried I would forget him in the shuffle and figured it was every cat for himself! I was worried at first that he had ripped through his carrier but in reality, I had simply forgotten to fasten the clasps after zipping him in. 

I probably should note that Pep is slightly obsessed with exploring the basement and probably just saw his chance with the door wide open and me paying little attention (thinking he was contained.)

All ended well though. That particular funnel cloud never touched down and while the severe weather lasted a few more hours, it mostly involved heavy rain and some hail.

The moral of this stupid story is that we need to get an actual kit together so we're not scurrying around and nearly losing the kitten in the scuffle.

And also, I may have some unhealthy anxiety when it comes to tornado scares.

On a Happier note:

This happened two years ago yesterday on a cliff in Hawaii.

We celebrated with a movie and sushi and I have to say that I am so happy with the little life and little family we've made (minus the tornado alley thing). 

Two wonderful years down, and here's to many, many more to come!

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Happy Birthday to my favorite set of twins!

Look at those cute kids back in 2003. They turned 25 today! We always wish we could celebrate with Laura, but as usual, we are separated by many miles. Thankfully, we have a family wedding to attend in a few weeks and will be able to see her and maybe have a drink to celebrate the milestone Birthday.

 Michael's present was in two parts this year. He got to pick out this absinthe that we have been wanting to try and I snuck around to buy him two blueberry plants that can be grown in containers for now but will be easy to transplant into the ground once we have a yard of our own. The boy loves his blueberries :-)

 We had to do a bit of fenangling to get the mixing just right. To attain the perfect cloudiness you must slowly drip water into the absinthe a drop at a time and although you can't tell from a picture, that water jug is really heavy. Eventually we filled salt shaker (from Michael's extensive thrift store silver collection) with the ice water and using a cork in the fill hole to vary the speed at which the water flowed out. 

 For his Birthday dinner, Michael opted for a chicken fricassée with homemade spaetzel (we found a spaetzel maker at a kitchen store for $8 -- I can't tell you how excited I was!).

And Pepin spent the evening trying to fit in the bottom of the pot we bought for the blueberries.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Home Improvement Part 2: A weekend of progress

 Over this past weekend, Michael got me motivated to finish some of the half finished bits and pieces lying around the living room.  I've done a poor job of taking before pictures of our recent projects but nonetheless, I will show you the finished products.

I mentioned in the post about my parents' visit that we worked on hand-caning one chair but I realize now that I never showed the good, finished picture of the piece.

Silly me, here you go.

 Thanks to lots of help from my mother I was able to complete the hand-caned chair on the right. After my family departed I was left with a pressed (pre-woven) cane chair that I needed to figure out how to do on my own (shown on the left hand side, for comparison of the hand weave vs. pre-weave). 

 Thanks to the modern marvel that is youtube, I was able to watch a video 2 or 3 times then Michael and I were a able to replace the old caning within 30 minutes. Although I made a small mistake on the spline (the piece that goes around the edges of the cane), I must say that I can see why the pre-woven cane was invented, if only because this chair took 30 minutes to complete as opposed to the 10 or so hours that the hand-woven cane demanded. (That isn't to say that pressed-cane doesn't posses its own challenges.)

 I also worked last week on sanding and staining this adorable little tea tray that my dad made for me when I was 10 and still had tea parties. I don't know why I never got around to finishing it until now. 

 Also on our to-do list was this all-important wine rack. As you can see in the background, we finished bottling this year's 45 bottles of wine and were severely lacking a place to put them. Michael is putting on the primer in this picture.

 Here it is with in the finished red/orange color. (LOVE!)

 And holding some of our wine. As you can see, we need to add something to the bottom of a leg so it doesn't wobble.

On a slightly related note: if you have a very quick little kitty and are painting, lock him in a different room. Pepin was not very happy with the bath he received after this little mishap and still has some peach-tinged fur on his back.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Bright Baby Knits

If I wanted to count how many pregnant friends and family members I know, I may just have to move past my fingers and count on my toes as well. Most of the projects have been small, quick gratification projects like these sweet little bibs and bunnies:

 Unfortunately I didn't realize that this picture was so terrible before packing some of them up and shipping them off to 2 of the 10 million babies that are soon to come.

 On a side note: you can see that Pep isn't particularly helpful when I when I want to knit.

But back to the point: my favorite recent knit was this Tri-Terra Cardigan that I did as a test knit for my friend Cosy. It was sized for a 6 month old but I messed up a bit on my measurements and it turned out a bit bigger. I am still in love with it though, especially the colors.

 I loved the pattern and was so happy that I was able to use some of Cosy's own Rainbow Chard hand-dyed yarn.

 The buttons were another great find and my new favorite St Louis store, Knitorious.

 This was also my first time knitting a sweater from the bottom-up. I was mildly terrified and had avoided anything but top-down like the plague but after finishing this super easy pattern, I can't figure out where my fear came from. 

You can see a couple of Cosy's other adorable baby sweaters that I did as a test knit for her last fall in this blog post. Sadly, those earlier sweaters never made from France to their recipients in Alaska so it is needless to say that whoever receives this sweater get it by hand-delivery.

P.S. For those of you who knit, this pattern is raveled here and will be linked to Cosy's pattern as soon as she posts it within the next few days.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Home Improvement Part 1

 You might remember our living room looking like this:

Cramped, smushed, and difficult to navigate. Unfortunately, if we wanted to make out anything on our tiny 17" TV, this is what we had to deal with.

Thanks to the untimely death (seriously, untimely. We were very lucky that we had been saving a bit.) of the 17" Samsung, our living room now looks like this:

While still not perfect, and not all in our style, this a serious upgrade from what we had been dealing with. 

On a slightly related note: I'm not sure if any of my brothers read this blog, but if you do, I just wanted you to know that I never expected that I would be playing Toejam and Earl on a 42" TV (the color is a bit distorted by the camera, but the picture quality of this TV is amazing!).

P.S. Blogger -- thank you for finally letting me post!

Monday, May 2, 2011

tea, kitties and wine

 Those three things are mostly what our weekend consisted of. Well, those and lots and lots of Netflix Instant View since our TV has been dead over a week now and the new one won't be here until Wednesday. It's not even like we are TV-aholics, we're still using an antenna, in fact! But we do like to watch the Sunday morning fare, the local realty show, and the occasional episode of Jaques and Julia on PBS (Jaques Pépin and Julia Child in one show = BRILLIANT, if you want my humble opinion) and we were a bit lost without them this weekend.  

 Back to the point of illustrating our weekend. On Friday I baked some scones for Michael to take to work to commemorate the Royal Wedding and so when he got home from work I made him eat some more along with a "spot-o-tea".

And, that was about it for the day. I guess we watched The Office too, but that's not very exciting to blog about. 

 On Saturday, Pepin practiced his rendition of "Thriller"

 And hid by the balcony door in hopes that we would open it so he could jump off of the balcony and attack the squirrel in the front yard. No luck for Pep though.

 On Sunday we actually accomplished something: we bottled some of this year's wine!

 At first, Pep was all excited to help.

 But he soon opted for a cat nap when he realized that you need opposable thumbs to work the corker.

Here are the 28 bottles that we finished yesterday (well, they still need labels, but they are at least drinkable). That's a little more than half of the wine we made this year. The plan is to bottle 6 more of both the Niagara (white) and Foch (red) then to blend the two for the last 10 or so bottles. Thanks again to my Dad for keeping us stocked up with grape juice and making sure that the partially fermented wine was well kept until we returned to the states.