Yesterday I found out that, luckily, all of my family fared pretty well during Hurricane Sandy. As the huge storm blew through Connecticut, my parents house remained standing, and luckily nothing was badly damaged.
They did, however, have some flooding in the basement. Nobody was that surprised to find this out, since even a little bit of spring rain will cause major puddles to form on the tile floor of the old house I grew up in, it just seems unavoidable.
Since the rains and cloudy weather finally subsided today, my parents spent the entirety of the day working to dry out the flooded basement. They used the shop-vac, towels and squeegees to get all of the water out, and then had to tackle the fact that a number of things they had been keeping down there were now waterlogged.
Because many of these possessions were important to them, it would have been sad and expensive for my parents to throw everything that had gotten wet away, so they decided to do what they could to salvage these items.
Years of experience drying out the flooded space have taught them that the best way to keep these items from becoming permanently damaged is to dry them out as soon as possible. They laid everything out on the no longer flooded floor, and then turned on several electric fans to blast them with dry air.
Of course, they were careful to make sure that the electric fan had not been damaged by the water, since this could have been hazardous. But overall, cleaning up from a flood isn't as hard is you would think, and if you do it right away, you can avoid long-term problems.
It's the day after Hurricane Sandy, and here in Boston, we fared pretty well. My roommates and I were lucky enough to ride out the storm in our apartment without even experiencing a power outage. But for many people in New Jersey, New York and Connecticut, the same isn't true. These areas will be dealing with the aftermath in the form of downed trees, power outages and flooding for the next few weeks at least.
I was shocked when I found out that the storm was powerful enough to knock the New York City subway out of commission.
I got a call from my mom earlier today, and I'm happy to report that my parents and dog in Connecticut got through the storm unscathed. The backyard and basement are a different story, however. My parents said that they're contending with two fallen trees in the yard and nearly a foot of water in the basement.
They first have to wait until they get power back, but it's safe to say that they'll be switching out their whole house humidifier for the shop-vac for a while. People up and down the East Coast are contending with this kind of flooding, which can cause mold and other damage long term.
Mostly, though, they're thankful that everyone they know made it through the storm in one piece. A little damage to the house is preferable to the loss of life and injury that were had by some.
Hopefully all of the areas that were seriously affected by this storm are able to get back on their feet without too much trouble, thanks to the efforts of friends and neighbors.
Here on the East Coast, we're bracing ourselves for the effects of Hurricane Sandy, which is causing high gusts of wind and dumping tons of rain on most of the Northeast. In most coastal areas, schools and businesses are closed in preparation for the bad conditions.
We've been told by local news outlets to prepare for power outages and other potential hazards of such hurricane weather. My roommates and I spent some time yesterday readying our apartment for the storm by bringing in furniture from the porch, putting extra water in the freezer and buying essentials such as candles, flashlights and batteries.
We have all been on the phone with our families, which are spread out across the Northeast, and are preparing for the hurricane in different ways.
We're keeping our windows closed so as to not subject ourselves to the high winds and rain. This should keep our house warmer too, since we won't be able to turn on our electric heater or turn up the manual thermostat once we lose power.
I looked it up online, and it's important to dress appropriately if the power goes out. I made sure to get a stack of sweaters ready, and plan to use my stove to make extra warm foods like tea and soup if that ends up happening.
According to local reports, the worst is still to come for most areas affected by this large storm system. Hopefully all of the preparation we put in place keeps us safe in the inclement weather, and nothing gets too bad here in Boston.
For now, we're doing our best to stay warm and safe during the storm, and hoping that everyone else does the same thing.
Since the weather is cool enough to require a jacket most days, and my roommates and I are considering turning the heat on in our apartment soon, it's safe to say that we don't need to air condition our apartment anymore. In fact, we haven't had a single hot day since I took my window air conditioner out and properly stowed it for the winter.
While I usually lament the end of the summer, and the return to sweater and boot weather, the other day I got a pleasant surprise when I opened my mail. This month was the first one when we had not used our window air conditioners at all, and I noticed a considerable drop in our energy costs for the month.
While I love the cool comfort that my air conditioner brings me, and wouldn't trade it for anything, the one silver lining of the coming winter is that I won't have to pay the heightened electric bills of the warm weather season anymore.
Since we have some energy efficient options, like thermal curtains to keep cold air out from our windows and have been trying to avoid heating our house too much, my roommates and I are anticipating having a little bit of extra cash to spend this winter.
I can't wait to make warm soup and cozy up now that the cold weather is here. And the fact that I don't have to pay summer electricity bills makes it that much sweeter. Of course, at the end of a long and taxing winter like Boston usually brings, I'm sure I'll be more than happy to enjoy the hot weather once again.
My grandparents recently moved into a smaller condo that's more their size in their old age. They love living in a complex that takes care of maintenance things like the lawn and gutters, as well as being closer to relatives in their old age.
Their new home came with a slew of modern technologies, most of which they were excited about. My grandma loves making Jetsons references in her "space age" stainless steel kitchen, and my grandpa really gets a kick out of the plasma screen TV on their wall.
When I recently went to visit them, though, it was so cold that I kept my coat on the entire time I was there. I asked my grandma why her house was so chilly, and she told me that she wasn't sure how to adjust the heat on their "fancy and energy fabulous thermostat."
I took a look at it for her, seeing as I'm usually their go-to tech-savvy young person, and it was really confusing to figure out. After a half hour of reading the manual and looking at the display, I thought I had cracked the code but it turned out that I had it all wrong!
I called my mom on the way home and told her about their confusing heating system. She and my dad went out to buy my grandparents a much easier manual thermostat that would enable them to turn up the heat whenever they needed to.
Since they're frugal in their old age, my grandparents are careful to turn the heat down before they leave the house and therefore haven't had a lot of energy waste, and it's been much easier for them to understand.
Two weeks ago, I went to get my hair cut. After noticing that my ends were in pretty bad shape, I decided it was time. When I got there, my hairdresser Lisa told me that I should stop using a blowdryer, since it was damaging my locks.
While she was hard at work giving me a new style and getting rid of my split ends, I looked around the shop, loving those fancy sinks, big dryers and large mirrors that every beauty shop holds. While I was checking the place out, I noticed that Lisa's salon also had a large whole house humidifier sitting demurely in the corner.
I asked her about it, and Lisa said that most hairdressers have humidifiers for the sake of the stylists and the customers. She went on to explain that most people feel uglier if they have that annoying feeling of dry skin, and that working with all of that hot air, hairdressers are prone to developing skin dryness.
Since using a humidifier is one of the main pieces of advice for making skin more beautiful, it only makes sense that these would be included in the decor of a salon, Lisa said. One of her mentors came to visit shortly after Lisa opened her shop, and the woman told her that the place looked great, but she simply had to have a humidifier.
Ever since she added the humidifier to her shop, she's noticed happier customers and has been more comfortable herself. I'll have to keep this in mind, since this is an easy way to look and feel more beautiful.
My dad loves to work on cars, perhaps more so than most people. It's the family joke that my mom can never park in the garage, because my dad always has a project going in there. The problem is so pronounced that, a few years ago, my dad actually cleaned out the garage and let her park there as a Christmas present.
But like many garages, the one attached to my parents' house is not climate controlled. While it is insulated to keep cold and hot air from getting into the house, there's no radiator in there, and it can get downright freezing in the middle of the winter.
When my dad would go to work on a car after dinner, he used to first get out a hat, his heaviest winter jacket and a pair of gloves, and then sigh heavily as he trudged down the stairs and out to the garage.
My mom was always worried that my father would get sick when he was out there in the freezing cold, and so one year, she decided to gt him a garage-related Christmas present as well. A few years ago, my mom found an electric heater perfect for the garage and put a big red bow on it under the tree.
My dad was thrilled with the gift, since it would not only make the garage more comfortable but also keep my mom off of his case about always bundling up. Since it wasn't bitterly cold anymore, we even sometimes went to visit him out there!
The electric heater in my family's garage turned out to be even more useful than we originally anticipated though. On cold days we would turn it on so that everyone wasn't freezing when we went out to the garage, it made the entire place more comfortable.
I've gotten really into cooking and baking recently. There's almost nothing I love more than getting home from a long day at work and making myself a nice dinner and dessert. I've also found that my friends love it when I make them homemade goodies as gifts.
Not only is this a fun and rewarding pastime, but it's saving me a lot of money since I don't have to waste a lot of money on going out to eat or buying gifts for others.
I spent all day on Sunday preparing my lunches for the week and making specialty cupcakes for my friend's birthday. It's surprising how tiring it can be to spend that much time baking, but I had a lot of fun with it.
After a few hours though, the heat from the oven and stove had taken over the kitchen, and it became unbearably warm. I'm lucky that the kitchen in my apartment has two large windows on either side of the stove, so I opened those, hoping that the fresh air would cool things down.
While the windows helped a little, it was still so hot in my kitchen that I considered changing into summer clothes for the rest of the day. Luckily though, that's when my roommate Veronica got home. She noticed the heat as soon as she walked in, and rather than putting up with it, went to the closet to get an electric fan.
I couldn't believe that I hadn't thought of the obvious solution! We now have the fan set up in a convenient corner of the kitchen where it can blow its fresh air on everyone, making it a much more comfortable place to bake.
When my sister moved into her apartment, she was pleasantly surprised to find that there was a window air conditioner already sitting neatly in her bedroom window. I came up to help her unload the truck, and we were both thrilled at this added bonus.
Once we had brought everything inside, it was nice to get a blast of cool air from this free air conditioner. I was thrilled at how well it worked. It seemed like the previous inhabitant had just bought it and left it behind as a housewarming gift for my sister.
She continued to use the AC that she was given throughout the summer, and was continually happy with its performance. But, since the weather has been getting cold, she asked me if I would help her uninstall the appliance.
Since I already did this with my own air conditioner, I now considered myself an expert at removing window units from the window, and I happily agreed to help her. When I went though, we found out why the previous tenant left the unit behind: It was completely stuck in the window.
Rather than let her nice air conditioner get ruined after a winter exposed to the elements, I did some research and found out that it's possible to winterize a window unit. We purchased an outside air conditioner cover to protect the back of the AC from snow, rain and falling leaves, and then got some window insulation for the inside of the house.
We simply sealed the plastic window insulation over the window to close gaps from the outside, and found that that worked very well in terms of blocking out cold air. With my support, my sister now feels ready to face the winter.
Last week, I noticed that the ends of my hair had gotten somewhat ratty and uneven, so I decided that it was time for a haircut. I found time after work one day to go to a salon around the corner from my house.
As soon as I sat down in the chair, my hairdresser Lisa made a face. I asked her if anything was wrong, and she told me that my hair had become quite damaged.
I asked her what she meant, since I usually spend a long time working on my hair every day. But according to Lisa, that was exactly the problem. She told me that as soon as I sat down, she could tell that I spend a while blowdrying my hair and then straightening it daily, and that this was what caused all of the damage to my hair.
She suggested that I should try to limit the amount of heat that my scalp is subjected to every day, since the heat from a blow dryer and then a straightener is simply too much for it. I wasn't sure what I was going to give up, since I don't like my hair to look curly and frizzy every day, and I don't have the time to wait for it to dry naturally. Then, Lisa gave me the solution.
She told me that I could turn on an electric fan in my room while I'm getting ready in the morning. This should speed up the drying process, but won't subject my hair to all that heat. Once it's dry, I can go through and straighten it. I took Lisa's advice on starting Monday, and my hair feels healthier already!