12 Days of Christmas Countdown – Day 5 – A Wilting Poinsettia

I’ve done it again this year. We made a family trip to the local nursery during the first weekend of December and picked out our tree, and a couple of big beautiful poinsettias to decorate living room. And as sure as Christmas on in the 25th, my Poinsettia began to wilt with a week to spare.

If there is an opposite of green (purple? Brown?) then that’s the color of my thumb. I have purchased, and subsequently tortured and killed numerous house plants. For a while, when we first bought our house, I would buy plenty of petunias each spring to add to the garden bed. For the first fee years, I did a pretty good job tending to them, until July anyway, when I would lose the battle to weeds. Now, with two children running around, the weeds begin to rule shortly after Memorial Day.

I don’t even bother with indoor plants anymore! Except at Christmas. For me, Poinsettias are nearly as important as the tree. They add color and life to our home just as the temperature is plummeting outside. Every year, I spend plenty of time, maybe too much time, perusing the greenhouse full of every variety of poinsettia. I look for one that has full, bright foliage, and no signs of wilting. I’ve learned to park close to the door, and to quickly get my plant into a warm car, lest the New England cold air choke it before it reaches my living room.

I try to follow all of the “caring-for-your poinsettia” tips I’ve picked up over the years, even though they are sometimes contradictory. Nevertheless, every year I either over-water or under-water, and by Christmas day I am sweeping up fallen wilted leaves throughout the day – hoping my guests won’t notice the sorry state of my Christmas flower.

If nothing else, I think I’ve learned to resist the urge to grab a poinsettia on the first weekend of the Christmas Season. Next year, poinsettia shopping with be on the 23rd!


When back-to-school shopping meets hurricane shopping

As we prepare for Hurricane Irene (New England’s uninvited guest who’s about to drop in this weekend), it occurred to me that my panicked run to the warehouse store to stock up on essentials will not be in vain. Even if Irene makes a hard right turn and heads out to the Atlantic, as parents of a 1st grader and a preschooler much of my hurricane shopping should double for back-to-school lunch/snack-time shopping.

On my pre-storm shopping list are:
Juice boxes
Water bottles
Dried fruit (raisins, cranberries, banana chips, etc.)
Peanut butter
Tuna fish
Cereal bars
Single serving -applesauce, fruit cups
Cereal (cheering, rice chex)
Graham crackers
Pre-packaged cheese and cracker snacks
Zone bars (fudge Graham, my personal favorite)
Instant Coffee
Tea Bags

Everything listed above can be stored at room temperature, and will stay fresh for an extended period (except the bananas). And everything on the list, except for the nut-based items are perfectly suitable as lunch box items for the kids.

In preparation for the big storm, I plan to start experimenting with a few cereal-based snack mixes. We should have plenty of munchies to get us through a long day or night with no TV or power. Any leftovers will go right back to the pantry, ready to be doled out in lunch boxes next week. During the storm, we’ll keep most of the food items in a handy plastic bin for safekeeping in case we happen to get any water in the house. Hopefully it will be more of a hurricane party-stash than an emergency food stash. If any readers have recipes, feel free to send them my way!

I thought I’d share a few other food shopping tips as we prep for the hurricane. Keep in mind, an unplugged full freezer stays cold longer than a half-full freezer. Even then, your freezer will thaw within 48 hours. (Your unplugged fridge is good for only about 4 hours.) So, please do not buy more frozen meat than you can eat in a few days. Fill your freezer with enough food for 2-3 days, and consider adding blocks if ice to fill it completely and maximize your food store.

Make sure you have gas for your grill. Detach the tank from the grill during the storm, and keep it in a safe place (but not inside the house!) A good grill will be invaluable after the storm to cook all of that frozen meat during an extended power outage.

Any other tips out there? Should I be adding something else to the list?


A brief update:

As of Thursday night, there were almost no batteries to be found within 10 miles of my house. After checking several of the big-time stores (supermarket, warehouse club, Dollar Store), I finally found a few packs of Size D batteries at the local gas station on the corner. I immediately bought up his small stash!

Here Comes Irene! Are You Prepared RI? (via My Life in RI)

Here Comes Irene! Are You Prepared RI?.

I live in Southern New England, and right now it seems as if we are in Hurricane Irene’s cross hairs.

This impending weather event has brought my worst neuroses to the surface. My therapy? Shouting from the rooftop to anyone who will listen, spreading the word on hurricane preparedness to friends and family alike.

As such, I’ve linked to my second blog “My Life In RI” to bring you some tips for building your family’s own disaster plan.