LED Candles-The holiday season is a great time to stock up on these. LED pillars and votives are found at Costco and Bed Bath & Beyond this time of year. They aren’t terribly bright, but they are safe. I had LED votives on for seven straight days in my powder room. (I could slide in a crass joke about darkness and missing the toilet, but I’ll let it go.) I had votives on each stair going to the upstairs and on a little table in the landing at the top.Unscented Pillar Candles & Bags of Tea Lights-The candle wattage of a real candle is better than an LED candle, but scented candles are the absolute worst in a power outage. Nothing will get your eyes burning or turn your stomach faster than Pumpkin Spice competing with Pear and Apple Cinnamon. Don’t even get me started on the Christmas tree scented candles! Scented candles are lovely in small doses, but if you are lighting candles night after night…it is disgusting. My daughter walked in one night when we had grilled Salmon and had the Pumpkin Spice candle going and her quote, “Our house smells really odd…fish and pumpkin pie.”
One Full Deck of Cards-We have a drawer full of cards…some with 50 cards, or 51 cards. The best CVS purchase I made was a full deck of cards on the day after the storm. We had a wholesome game of Poker with our young sons, which was a lesson in math and gambling that was fun for one night and maybe half of the second.
A Fireplace or BBQ Lighter-If you are lighting the fireplace or twenty candles every night, there is no need to be all Little House on The Prairie with matches.A Variety of Duct & Painters Tape-Our duct tape held together our neighbor’s generator and painter’s tape sealed the crack on the window after threading the plug from his generator into our house.
Heavy Duty Foil-I put peppers and onions drizzled with a little olive oil, salt and pepper into a heavy duty foil packet and threw it on top of the BBQ. Next night I did the same thing with potatoes in one packet and green beans in another. After a while, you just want a vegetable that isn’t from a take-out container.The Flashlight App-It is REALLY dark trying to get into your house with no lights on anywhere. The iPhone flashlight app is incredible.
Snack Packs of Pudding-Ok, this might need some explaining. My husband and sons got stuck in the Florida hurricane that threatened in late August. My husband bought pudding snack packs as part of his food hurricane provisions. When I asked why, he said it was non-perishable and gluten-free. He bought it again this time around and we all had a good laugh…until pudding actually became comfort food. It’s velvety, unctuous texture and rich chocolate or vanilla flavor was quite simply, delicious, when sitting around in the dark after dinner.Other non-perishables and a manual can opener-Trail Mix, Peanut Butter, Thai Kitchen Noodle Soup, Annie’s Gluten-Free Mac n’ Cheese, Chex Cereals, Schar Rolls, a variety of protein and nut bars. The manual can opener is kind of obvious.
Red Wine-The Wall Street Journal used to have an “open that bottle” night which was a wonderful feature where people planned to open a special bottle of wine to share. From talking to my friends and neighbors, every night after the storm was an “open that bottle” night.While some of this is tongue in cheek, the one lesson I learned was that you must pay the kindness forward. A long time gluten-free friend had us all over for dinner and to watch the Giant football game because they got power back first. Then when I got power back, I opened up my home, my kitchen and my Wi-Fi key for my friends without power.
Now that I have actually seen the footage of the devastation, it’s about paying it forward even further with cleaning supplies, donations and food for the people who lost everything. We got the word yesterday that everyone in my community, except for approximately six homes with extensive damage, has power back up and running. Thanks to the local crews and to the crews I saw from Montreal, Iowa, Texas and Louisiana who were working in our neighborhood.
Gratitude and paying it forward are actually the only two things I am going to think about this holiday season! But if anyone else has a “must have” item for surviving a week or longer without power, feel free to add to the list.Kendall Egan