Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Lessons Learned from the Recent Storm

The recent storm that plowed through Columbus gave us a chance to learn some very valuable lessons.  Some of which we had plans to prepare for but had yet to get around it.  More importantly, if gave us some very definitive areas of weakness that need to be addressed.

The storm rolled in pretty quick, and while I left work in what I thought would have been enough time to get home, it wasn't.  I was barely a mile from work when it hit.  First lesson: driving on a freeway in rush hour traffic in a chaotic storm was not a fantastic place to be.  This is pretty obvious for anyone in a city, but will now make me reassess the my departure times when a storm like that comes through.  On the plus side, I was already taking an alternate route home, which got be off the freeway, and away from the human idiocy side of the danger equation.  This is a huge recommendation of mine for anyone - figure out at least 3 ways home.  This has great advantages on an everyday basis as many times there are accidents, events, etc. that will significantly delay a "typical" route.  

I already knew we didn't have power because I called Lynette and let her know the route I was taking home.  I waited to call when I was at a light and was able to pay attention to what was going on, but I felt that letting her know which way I was taking home was important just in case I got delayed, had to ditch the car, or got in an accident.  That way, if I wasn't able to be reached by phone, once the storm blew over she could have come looking for me.  I once I got home, we started evaluating the situation of being without power for the first time in our new house.  Almost immediately, I got out a sheet of paper, and started a list.

This list included pretty much everything we could think of or encountered during our 3 days without power. Everything from knowing where the flashlights and lanterns were, to minor issues with the float valve on our back-up sump pump.  On the back of this page, I also started a list of things to put into a procedural manual for the house.  These procedures are basically all the little things that we never really think about proactively. For example, when the power is out and the fridge is off, the ice in the door of the freezer starts to melt and puddles on the floor.  This will be especially good to remember once we get the hardwood installed in the kitchen.  The procedure manual is a simple reminder that if the power is off for a few hours, go a head and just empty the ice bin to keep it from melting.  This manual will also come in very handy once we get a generator and need the procedure to set that up and get it running to be laid and straight forward.

This leads us to our big lack of being prepared.  No generator.  We bought this place because it got us away from the city and away from the big population of people.  In doing so, we know that while we are not remote, we are far enough out to make things like power outages last a bit longer.  This was our big weak spot.  We had planned to get one eventually, but put it off for other things.  Once the power was out, and we had 3 neighbors around us running generators we knew that we had better correct this problem next time.  

Also, while we were out looking for items that we lacked we realized there are quite a few things that come in short supply during situations like this (D batteries, ice, gas, coolers, generators, etc.).  Luckily our small chest freezer was fairly empty and our fridge was too, so we were able to stuff everything in the freezer, and throw some ice on it.  That kept it cold enough to salvage all the important/expensive stuff.  We now know however to not only make sure we have these things stored for when it happens again, but to also test and make sure we know how to work something. 

Example - we got a Coleman camp stove for Christmas so I broke it out and fired it up to make some coffee on Saturday morning, just to quickly run out of fuel....oops.  The gas grill ended up and worked good for it, but used way more fuel than necessary.  We bought some fuel on Saturday, but then apparently overfilled the tank.  Again, a lesson better learned when you're not in need of something.

Finally, and sadly it seems that this society has an extremely short attention span.  When the power went out, people panicked, and spent sometimes hours finding a generator, just to get home and apparently have power.  You would think they'd be happy that they had a generator for next but, but you'd be wrong.  Instead, it was immediately posted on craigslist.  I saw many ads indicating that the generator had been run, yet they still wanted full price for it....?!  Really people.  Moral of the story is, it's better to prepare for it now, then rush around in a panic with a bunch of other crazy panicked people.  

Did you learn any lessons from the weekend storms?  Are there a bunch of little things or some big things that really made things worse than they had to be?  I'd be interested to know because it may be something we didn't even think about or hadn't experienced.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Welcome home!

It's been a busy few months, but for those that don't know, we are officially moved in to our first house!

This is us arriving on the day we took possession.  We spent a couple of weeks cleaning and painting, and then we officially moved in on April 14th.  We still have a lot to do before we can really settle in, first of which being 830 square feet of oak flooring to lay...

It still feels like home and we're very glad to not have a landlord anymore. 

There is already a plot for the garden and we're looking forward to getting it started  We have to get a couple of yards of top soiled delivered and tilled in before we can plant anything because it's pretty much crappy looking clay dirt. 

We've got lots of plans, projects, and ideas that we want to do and try so be forewarned that a lot of the good and bad might be coming your way.  For now though, it's off to bed.  Just wanted to post an update and let the internets know that we haven't fallen in a hole somewhere.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

On March 9th, I lost one of my oldest friends. After begging for months for a dog, I brought Cissy home wrapped inside my coat. My parents figured a cat was the lesser of two evils, so my sisters and I got our first pet that did not require a cage. I had just turned 13. Now at nearly 28, I know I will likely never have another pet for over half of my life. I will miss that little sister cat dearly.

Though she belonged to me and all of my three sisters (and I have fond memories of several of us sitting together in an exam room at the vet's and pooling our babysitting money for her shots), I was the one that belonged to Cissy. Somehow I was always her girl, the only one she tolerated (as much as a Cisscat can tolerate anyone). And so, she came with me as soon as I graduated and got a place of my own.

When Eric started hanging around, he tried to tell me he didn't like cats - which he will vehemently deny, but who are you going to believe here ;-). Even so, he tried desperately to make friends with Cissy with little luck. Somehow, they won each other over. He finally got his very own head grooming just before she left us!

Cissy was diagnosed with liver cancer, spread to the spleen and kidneys last June. She did very well on steriods until recently. When she began straining to pee, we had to let her go. I will miss our little popcorn-stealing friend. I think I might even miss telling guests not to try to pet the cat ;-)

Here is Cissy, from 4 weeks until 15 years:

Thursday, January 5, 2012

The real 1% - Possibly you and me...

On my way to work this morning, I heard a figure that really gave me some perspective.  To be in the top 1% of earners in the US, an income of more than $500k is needed, but to make it to the top 1% in the world, one needs to earn only $34,000/year.  You heard that right...$34,000 a year!

The global median salary is only $1,225 a year.  In the United States, a single person receiving welfare payments (some of the poorest in the country) can expect to receive an average payment of $200/month  or $2400/year.  That's almost twice as much as the median worldwide! (I do realize that median is much different than average, but I think it still illustrates my point).

I'd like to make something very clear though.  I have no problems with people making significant amounts of money.  I don't expect those people to give (voluntarily or involuntarily) their hard earned money to those that are "less fortunate."  I think it's for the benefit of all that people are encouraged to work hard and give themselves opportunities to make money. I just found it thought provoking that in today's American culture, people always want more more more money because they can't possibly survive on their current level of income.  In a country where wants are considered needs, and material driven consumerism is an epidemic, it seems that many people have lost perspective on what is really important.  It's not about the stuff you have, it's about the life you lead and what you leave behind.  I'm not trying to put down or judge anyone that has a lot of stuff.  We too have luxuries that we don't need, but they do make our lives easier, more enjoyable, etc.

Over the last couple of years, we've started looking closely at the money we spend, where it's being spent, and if it could go other places more appropriately.  I would encourage anyone reading this to take a long look at there spending habits.  If you want to keep all those luxuries, go for it, but just realize how good you truly do have it in this country.  If you're only making minimum wage, which just went up to $7.70/hour here in Ohio, your annual salary is $16,016.  That's over 1300% higher than the global median!  Even if you're on welfare, you're still doing better than half of the world...

Do what you can with what you've got now, but always strive for something better.

Let me know what your thoughts are on these figures.  Did it change your perspective as it did mine?

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Dog(s) in the kitchen

I often kick Webster out of the kitchen while I'm cooking.  When it was he and Gracie, it was even worse with dogs being under-foot.  I rarely consider the benefits of having a dog in the kitchen (or at least on call) until I'm in a kitchen at someone's house without a dog.

There usually comes a time when at this dogless house that something edible is dropped to the floor.  My first thought it usually, "oh, the dog will get it" then I realize that there is no dog there and my thought turns to, "you need to get a dog."  Seriously.  There are very few times when we have to pick/clean anything off the floor in the Rosendaul household.  If it's something they can't eat like grapes, onions, bones, etc then we'll pick it up, but other than that, the clean up crew is just a short whistle away!

I really cannot imagine a day without a dog in the house.  Not only for companionship, laughter, and security, but also for their uncanny ability to keep a tidy floor.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Birthday Dinner - Elevator Brewery and Draught Haus

Yesterday was my 31st birthday.  We didn't plan for anything big, but Lynette wanted to take me out to dinner.  She even picked the place!

We went to Elevator Brewery and Draught Haus.

It was our first time being there, and as we left, I realized it was probably the first time I had ever eaten at a "downtown" establishment (other than the Arena District which I don't think counts).  They are a local brewery of which we've previously bought and tried a couple of their beers.  We've liked all the beer we've tried and so we had high hopes for dinner.  We were not disappointed!

Unfortunately I failed to get any pictures of dinner, or the inside of the building, but both were awesome!  We were greeted with a long narrow building, that had some awesome historic details.  Apparently it used to be a brothel/gentlemen's club and from what I've been told may have the oldest billiard table in the state.  Next time we go, I'll probably pay more attention to the details of the building instead of thinking about dinner and the beer sampler.

I got the 6 beer sampler and loved all of them!  Even the light beer was delicious (for a light beer)!  Lynette got the fish and chips (which I helped her polish off) and I got the special, crab manicotti. There were only two manicottis, but they were quite filling, especially with a couple pieces of bread first and some beer.

It was a bit more expensive than what we usually spend for dinner, but we will definitely go back for special occasions (or when we feel like splurging).  I've heard their appetizers are delicious too (though we didn't try any) so I mentioned to Lynette that it would be a fun place to go, get an appetizer, and have a couple of beers.

If you've never been to Elevator, I would totally suggest going.  There isn't an adjacent parking lot, so you'll have to find a garage, but there are at least two within a couple blocks.  The ambiance is a little dim, and some of the tables are close together, but it was a great, unique dining experience.

The building was awesome, the food was better than awesome, and the beer was outstanding!

Wednesday, October 19, 2011


A term I'm sure few are familiar with.  Charcuterie is essentially the art of curing meat.  Now we can just throw it in the freezer or fridge, but it was done before refrigeration was around.  I also thinks it's knowledge and a skill set that is very good to have.

I got the opportunity to attend a Charcuterie class put on by Rachel from Hounds In The Kitchen and her husband Alex.  I was lucky enough to actually win a seat at the class because of a giveaway Rachel was holding in honor of her birthday!

I've been wanting to go to one of her classes, but hadn't yet gotten around to it.  I now know what I was missing.  This was the last class of her Preserving Series, but I hope to be able to attend another class in the future.  Unfortunately I didn't get any pictures, as the best camera we own is my Droid X which takes great outdoor pictures, but crappy indoor ones.  This will be an all word post, but I'll try to make it short. I promise.

We learned a lot about charcuterie in general with regards to different methods, techniques, etc.  We discussed confit, which is a method of preserving meat in fat.  We also talked a little about salt curing, rillette, and stuff like bacon, pancetta, and sausage.  I wasn't even aware that sausage was a form of charcuterie!

I've done some charcuterie before when I corned beef for St. Patrick's day this year.  It was a lot of fun and easy so I was immediately interested in more.  Alex and Rachel did a great job breaking things down to very simple and easy to understand instructions.  They passed around some pork belly (in a bag) that they were curing for bacon so everyone could feel the firmness of the meat.  They also made some sausage so everyone could see how easy it was.  They at least made it look easy.  Just like everything else, it seems like it would be a very involved process and way more hassle than it would be worth.  They made it a point to specifically say that making your own sausage wasn't saving you any money, but it gave you more control.  The good news is, it doesn't seem to be as difficult as what I thought it would be!

They cooked up a couple of links of the sausage for us to try, along with some of their spanish chorizo (I think), and pancetta.  We also got to try some of their recently blogged about squirrel rillette!  It was delicious!  I imagine that most people reading this are having a similar reaction to what Lynette did, but all I have to say to those people is don't knock it until you've tried it!  It really tasted very similar to dark chicken meat, and was really great as a rillette!

All in all, it was an awesome night!  Everyone got to take home some sausage, I for one took home a lot more knowledge, and definitely the confidence to try my hand at some more charcuterie.  Unfortunately with a very nosy kitten and a basement that is short, cramped, and probably too gross, we won't be hanging anything to dry, like pancetta.  Someday we will, but while we're here I'll stick to something less likely to end up in the stomach of a certain trouble maker, like bacon and sausage.

I want to say thanks to Rachel and Alex for not only providing me a free seat to the class, but also for putting on these classes.  It takes time out of there, I'm sure already busy schedule, but is definitely a benefit to the growing local food community.  I'm sure many people feel this way, but speaking for myself, as just one uninformed Columbus food enthusiast, their blog and these classes have really helped me gain the knowledge to try new things, but more importantly the confidence to try them.

I would absolutely recommend that for anyone in Columbus that is interested in cooking food, preserving, gardening, or have kids that you're teaching to cook to look into one of her classes.  It's well worth the cost for the great hands-on work and down to earth instruction.