Monday, August 29, 2011

Hurricane Irene and How We Prepared

Today is a beautiful sunny Summer day here in Rhode Island. It is also the day after Hurricane Irene, which I am happy to say, did not do much damage to our home or property. We were lucky. Our hearts go out to those who were not so lucky, and to those who are left with no power and a major clean up.

I am able to write this because our power was restored early this morning. Yesterday we drove around the area and saw some giant trees uprooted and branches across roads, driveways and everywhere else. Power lines were down and we returned to a dark house. Of course, being a Candle Maker for a living meant a beautifully candle lit home. We played Scrabble and had a couple of cocktails and listened to the last of the storm winds blow through the leaves on our trees.

I thought I would document some of the ways that we prepared for Hurricane Irene. Maybe some of our ideas will help you prepare for power outages, hurricanes, earthquakes, or other natural disasters where you are left to your own resources until your town is back up and running.

1. Water: We filled many containers with water for drinking and for washing up. Also for flushing toilets and cleaning dishes. We make beer and wine so we filled our carboys and buckets and cook pots with water for drinking. We filled wash buckets and drink tubs (the kind you fill with ice and drinks for a party) for flushing and washing. We also filled the bath tub and lots of bottles that we placed in the fridge and freezer.

2. Hygiene: In addition to stocking up on baby wipes, hand wipes and disinfecting house-cleaning wipes, we filled a big container with a spout and placed it next to the sink. This allowed us to wash our hands and brush our teeth with a "faucet" and really helped! It was easy to refill and made using the sink feel a little more normal. We also used paper plates (I know...the environment...but this was to avoid FILTH people!).

3. Light: Several days before the storm, I went to the store for batteries for two large flashlights, only to find that they were out of all batteries besides AA and AAA. In case of this type of "oops" on preparing while everyone else was preparing...I recommend also having two smaller flashlights on hand that you can replace batteries in when the large ones fail, or you can't get batteries for them. Another GREAT thing to have on hand is a battery operated magnetic tap light. Those are the funny little round lights that you press down and light up small spaces with. Place them in each room near a candle and matches or a lighter so that you can use it to illuminate a space while you light your candles. Which brings me to Candles! Keep reading...

4. If you get to the grocery store too late and the shelves are bare of candles, I have a secret for you. Go to the canning section of the store. Yes...I said the CANNING SECTION. You will find boxes of Gulf Wax. Gulf Wax comes in four slabs or four bars. The trick is to get some 100% cotton string around the size of a wick (because most of us don't have 100 feet of wick lying around). When you get your gulf wax home, seperate the slabs or bars and us a lighter to soften some wax to stick onto the wick. Press the slabs or bars of wax together around the wick and viola! You've got a long-burning candle. Be sure to place EVERY candle into a hurricane vase or into a container that can handle wax drips. It is easy to remove wax from glass by popping it into the freezer for a few minutes. Keep candles away from windows or other drafts. Keep them away from curtains and blow them out or bring them with you as you change rooms. NEVER LEAVE A CANDLE BURNING UNATTENDED! If you have time to prepare, buy long-burning candles (natural wax like soy or beeswax burn the longest and cleanest) and get yourself a lantern that takes long tapers. Lanterns are awesome...cuz you can bring them with you everywhere you go...including outside in the wind.

5. Stuff to store in your Safe Room (fewest windows, load-bearing wall):
  • flashlights
  • batteries
  • candles
  • lamps
  • cook stove
  • fire extinguisher
  • breathing mask
  • rubber gloves
  • wipes
  • paper dishes
  • non-parishable food (jerky, peanut butter and crackers, juice, vitamin water, water, canned food, etc)
  • can opener
  • rope
  • chainsaw (and gas)
  • a generator if possible
  • ice
  • cooler to avoid opening your fridge and freezer
  • hand sanitizer
  • paper towels
  • evacuation bag containing clothing for a few days and bath/towel supplies
  • pet carriers on hand for evacuation along with food for all pets for several days
  • first aid kit
  • medications for every member of your household, including pets
  • gas up your cars
  • charge all electronic batteries (computers, phones and other devices)
  • rotary phone (yep...they don't need electricity and if your phone lines are not down, you can call out or receive calls without using up cell phone batteries!)
  • battery operated/ hand-crank radio
There are probably things I am forgetting off-hand, but just picture having no running water, electricity or heat source for several days. Add to it that there has just been a disaster that could have caused damage to gas lines, windows, trees, roads and so on. If you have no access to medical help, food or water, what will you need to survive?

The fun side of things...where is your deck of cards? Board games? How about a few good books  you've been meaning to read. Magazines or other reading/writing materials you can use for entertainment during daylight hours or by candle light.

Well, that is my first crack at this post. I may add to this as I think of other bright ideas we either had, or wish we would have to endure the storm and resulting loss of power.

What are your suggestions? Add them in the comments section!

Friday, August 19, 2011

Beeswax Hand-Dripped Pillar Candles

I am excited to show off my new beeswax candle style: Hand-Dripped Pillar Candles

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Recipe of the Week: Herbed Waters

Ok so this sounds strange, right? But in the Summer, I drink a ton of water throughout the day and I get bored with it. So...I try spicing it up with different herbs or other ingredients to keep it interesting.

You can do this by the glass, but I prefer doing a whole pitcher and refridgerating it for a couple of hours before drinking it.

Here are my favorites:

Cucumber and Lime
Add four or five slices of cucumber and half of a lime (squeezed) for a super refreshing blend.

Rosemary and Lime
Add FRESH PICKED rosemary and half of a lime. This sounds a little mysterious, but I promise the rosemary and lime combo is really pleasant.

Cucumber and Ginger
Add sliced cucumber and sliced ginger. This is also good with fresh mint.

Mint Cucumber
Fresh spearmint or mountain mint with cucumber slices.

Orange Ginger or Lemon Ginger
Just like it sounds...half of an orange or a lemon with sliced ginger.

Lemon Thyme
Fresh thyme sprigs with slices of lemon.

All of these are best after sitting for a bit, and if you have time, try starting with warm water and chilling until it is ice cold. That way the heat brings out the flavor into the water, as it would with tea or sun tea.

These are also all great combined with iced teas...which are delicious with mashed berries!

I hope that you try some of these! Drinking water is so important, and this helps make it a bit more interesting. last bit of advice...drink these within a day or two. You want FRESH ingredients in your water. So...there is another incentive to drink lots of water for good health!

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Rolled Beeswax Candle Colors Available in M Design Boutique

Recently, M Design Boutique began introducing the new "Pioneer Brasa" Beeswax Candles and as with any new product, I am learning what you, my customers want to know!

Most of the beeswax candles are available in the natural colors of beeswax, in small batches of each particular color, based on the availability of local wax. They are also available in white. But...some of you have asked about colored beeswax. There is an option for you too! The hand-rolled Tapers, Votives and Pillars come in a wide variety of colors.

Due to the differences in screens, browsers, lighting and other variables, I cannot guarantee that you will get the exact color you are seeing here, but it will be close! Here are the available colors:

If you are ready to order your hand-rolled candles, please visit M Design Boutique!

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Sneak Preview: Pioneer Brasa (M Design Boutique's Line of Beeswax Candles)

Hand-rolled Beeswax comes in a variety of colors. $5/pair
Pioneer Brasa

M Design Boutique's new line of Beeswax Candles will debut this Fall!

These are high quality pure natural beeswax candles (no blends!) with braided cotton wick.

Natural wax burns cleaner and slower than other types of wax because it burns at a higher temperature.

The wicks have been selected to burn clean and efficiently with a slight top curl to burn evenly throughout to the edge of the wax.

The fragrance of all Pioneer Brasa is from the natural fragrance of the wax, which is a light floral honey fragrance that is so light and natural it works for any season.

Enjoy the first  photos of some of the candles in the new line!

If you want to order your beeswax candles before they make it into the shop, I am accepting early orders, and have already been processing don't wait! Email to request your handmade beeswax candles today from M Design Boutique!

The Rustic Taper. This is the darkest natural shade of beeswax being offered.

9.5" Rustic Tapers $7/pair

Monday, August 1, 2011

Recipe of the Week by Linda VanDyke (My Awesome Cousin) Chocolate Buttermilk Zuchinni Cake

This recipe comes via my cousin Linda who is a creative powerhouse!
When life gives you zuchinni, make zuchinni cake!

Summertime brings a wealth of home-grown garden harvests that honestly just don't know what to do with. Add to that all of the bags of produce the neighbors show up with from their gardens! My cousin Linda recently posted this photo of a masterpiece of a cake! Her neighbor had dropped a zucchini off at Linda's door, having too much to use herself.

Presenting: Chocolate Buttermilk Zucchini Cake!

You will need:
1/2 c. buttermilk
1 t. vanilla
2 c. sifted all purpose flour
1 t. baking soda
1/2 t. cinnamon
1/4 t. cloves
1/2 t. salt
4 T. cocoa powder
1/4 c. walnuts chopped
6 oz. semi sweet chocolate chips

  1. Heat oven to 325 degrees
  2. Grease and flour a bundt pan.
  3. Cream together butter, oil, sugar.
  4. Add 1 egg at a time. blend in the buttermilk, vanilla,with the other ingredients.
  5. Blend well.
  6. Sift the dry ingredients. and add to the above.
  7. Add the grated zuchinni and blend well.
  8. Pour mixture into the bundt pan.
  9. Top with the chocolate chips, and walnuts.
  10. Bake for 45-50 minutes.
I used 4 oz. milk choc. chips, butter, vanilla, and milk beat with electric mixer. (Make sure to heat the chocolate chips.)

Wait for cake to cool completely, and then frost!