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Hello February and goodbye to January!
I am not sad to see it go. Mainly because it included back-to-back ice storms that knocked power out for six days for us and that we are that much closer to spring - yay!
But like most things, there are good out of the bad. Most of my family was also out of power and we had a 10 day group text going to encourage, commiserate and share things that were working for us. The connection was so nice - I almost felt sad when we got back to our normal lives!
And we learned. One, that we could survive even if the bedroom was 37 degrees because the blocked-off living room was a balmy 52. Second, what we will now plan for in the future. Some things we had worked well, others didn't, and there were some things we hadn't even thought of.
And I am grateful. For modern heat and plumbing, for appliances that make cooking and feeding ourselves so much easier than it was for earlier generations, and for little things like puffy down slippers (loaned to me by my sister - the only thing that kept my toes from numbing!) and gloves that you can use with devices (why hadn't I gotten them earlier?).
So even though losing power isn't a good thing, some things that came out of it were, which I'm sharing below along with a couple Christmas presents I'm loving, the books I read in January, and a movie that's good for the whole family (another thing learned: books on iPads and Kindles are much easier to read than paper books in the dim light of lanterns and candles!).
Ice Storm and Power Outage
In mid-January our area was hit with low temps (20 degrees, which we don't often see) and moisture which resulted in lots of snow in the Cascade Mountains, but sadly freezing rain in the mid-Willamette valley.
It weirdly skipped some areas and was lighter in others, with the east and south areas of Eugene getting hit the hardest. We got about an inch accumulation (shown in my sunken garden above) after a day of freezing rain.
This brought down power lines and snapped power poles all over (as well as so many deciduous tree limbs-our poor little wooded area is decimated). We lost power on Saturday the 13th and by Sunday everyone in my family was out of power except for one sister who miraculously didn't lose power in South Eugene (so was able to care for us by providing water, food, and hot showers!).
The longest we'd ever been without power was in our previous home for 5 days, which was more than 10 years ago. We didn't get it back for six days this time - and others in my family had to last 10 days! Mainly because another, smaller freezing rain storm happened a few days after the first - crazy.
I'm working on an article that goes into more about our experience and what we learned - and will include a list of items to keep on hand as well as options for heating and emergency power - but for now I want to highlight a couple things that worked.
What Worked for Us With the Power Out 6 Days
- This LED Lantern. With it's D batteries, it lasted the whole 6 days (and is still going strong) whereas a smaller lantern with AA batteries only lasted 2-1/2 days. We found we needed two, so I bought another one (after sending a cheaper kind back that was so bright it hurt my eyes - this one is diffused light with 2 settings).
- Fleece-lined pants. I had an old pair of ski pants I was just about to give away - so glad I didn't, since they saved the day! I layered them with leggings and they kept my legs so much warmer than just leggings or even leggings and jeans.
- Puffy down slippers. My toes were numb or cold for the first three days even with two layers of wool socks and my thickest slippers. Then my sister loaned me a pair of puffy down booties and no more cold toes!! They were the only thing that worked. I've discovered these aren't cheap (and when searching, most that come up aren't actually down), but this pair I found on Etsy look promising.
- Induction cooktop. When we got our generator going (first time using it, so real learning curve!) this is what allowed us to heat up canned soup, boil water for pasta, and more. (Note: we had moved to a Blackstone griddle/grill last summer, so no burner was available with propane like we had in the past. Though it was nice not to have to go outside to boil water with the cooktop!)
- Electric kettle. We have this cute ceramic one (less plastic), but any electric kettle would work - it heats water fast so uses less power and I didn't really want to drink any cold water, so this got a workout.
Cheap Old Houses Book
I follow @cheapoldhouses on Instagram (such a fund account if you like old houses) and saw that they had a book, so I asked for it for Christmas.
And I love it - it's so fun to just look through, but then the stories are inspiring, too. While the houses were cheap, there is a time and even more money commitment, sometimes including hardships like living on a porch for months.
My daughter got me a mug warmer for Christmas and it's the thing I didn't even know I wanted!
I love this so much - now my coffee or tea is warm to the last drop and I don't need to hurry the last few swallows.
I had briefly looked at a mug warmer another blogger linked to, but it had it's own special mug and I think used an app, so it was close to $100! That was the last I looked, lol.
Besides the price, what I like most about this one is that you can use any mug that's heavy enough to depress the warmer (so far all mine have) and that's there's no on/off switch to forget to turn on (or off).
Once plugged in, you simply place your mug on it and it turns on (a light in the front glows) and when you remove the mug, it turns off. So easy!
See the mug warmer here (it comes in black and pink, too).
Happy Place, Emily Henry. While I've enjoyed Emily Henry's other books, this wasn't my favorite. It's never a good sign when you keep looking at the percentage read (this was an audiobook) and it's way less than you thought. The whole book's premise is that the main couple were together for years in college but then through miscommunication aren't anymore - but their friends don't know it. They have to pretend at a summer vacation with all the awkward and normal things that would happen in that situation. It just went on and on - way more than this storyline should have. The last half of the book was an excruciating flip-flop of "we love each other but won't talk" and "we love each other but can't be together" tropes. UGH. I know I'm in the minority on this one - it just wasn't for me.
Wool, Silo Series 1, Hugh Howey. This series was recommended to Brian and me by our daughter because she liked the book and because of the Apple+ show that was based on it. It started with a bang - a great story that actually read like a short story (we found out that's exactly how the book started on the internet). Then it bogged down a bit in the middle before ending with come great action sequences. Throughout there are lots of twists that surprised us and the world built in a huge Silo (because the air outside is poisoned) is super interesting. I'm not sure we'll continue with the series, but we'll definitely be watching the TV show.
The Viscount and the Vicars Daughter, Mimi Matthews. This is an author I know who will give me a happily ever after without anything cringe-worthy and usually with some good emotional depth. This was a sweet story with the hidden-beauty/companion and rake trope, which I like - and of course the heroine isn't really just a vicar's daughter. Nothing to wax poetic about, but a nice story to pass a dreary (icy, ha!) day.
A Holiday by Gaslight: A Victorian Christmas Novella, Mimi Matthews. I read the previous book on Hoopla and when I returned it they recommended this short novella, and I was in that kind of mood, so why not? This is sort of a second chance romance, but starts with the heroine breaking things off with the hero who doesn't talk much and seems very stern. They try again, this time communicating, all amid a Christmas house party, snow, and mistletoe. Cute.
Comedy, Comedy, Comedy, Drama, Bob Odenkirk. I waited for this audiobook from the library for more than a month because I was so fascinated that the man I only knew through heavy drama (Better Call Saul) started out in comedy and has a stint as a writer on SNL. Not the normal career projection, right? The author read the book, which is always nice, and it's another story of happenstance and being in the right place at the right time for a kid from the midwest to make it in showbiz. I don't know why I'm always so surprised when I hear a version of this dumb luck career story. Of course he kept at it when many others would have given up, so it may start with luck, but that's not usually what gets people to the top. There were lots of comedy people he mentioned that I knew (his take on Chris Farley was especially poignant) and many more I didn't, as he was interested in "alternative comedy" that's not really up my alley. All in all a good memoir. (The book ends before his dramatic heart attack on set in summer of 2021, which I didn't know when I started.)
Murder At Blackwater Bend, Clara McKenna (narrator Sarah Zimmerman). I'm continuing this audiobook series that started with Murder at Morrington Hall last month. They are a little more predictable and without the secondary character development of say, the Maisie Dobbs series or even Poppy Denby. But I do like the main two characters and the overarching storyline of theirs through the books. I'm not sure I would've listened to them if not for the narration by Sarah Zimmerman, but as usual she does a great job bringing them to life.
Boys in the Boat, Theater. I really enjoyed this inspiring, uplifting movie! It was so nice to sit down and know I wasn't going to see anything violent, gross, or offensive. I wish there were more movies made like this. (We found the PBS American Experience documentary on You Tube the next day and watched it and while there were things changed and compressed for the movie storyline, I still felt like George Clooney and cast told the story well for a 2-hour drama.)
Welcome to Wrexham, Hulu. This is the ongoing docu-series of actors Ryan Reynolds and Rob McElhenney after buying a soccer/football club in Wales. I know nothing about European soccer, but I've really enjoyed this series! It highlights the story of the small town and the people who've been fans for years and years, as well as the players, owners and management. It's more about people than the sport. I'm sure the little town has a huge tourist department now because it makes you want to visit!
That's it for another addition of the Good Things List!
If you'd like to see more of what I'm enjoying, you can check out all the Good Things Lists here. I'd love to know what you think - if you've tried any of these or what you'd recommend. Leave a comment below with your thoughts!
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