making a home emergency kit

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If there can be any silver lining at all found in the horrific disasters that recently hit New Zealand and Japan, perhaps it’s that many more of us will be better prepared should a similar event occur closer to home. I felt a little like a crazy survivalist when I told my husband I thought we should have an emergency stash of food and water in case “the big one” hits the Pacific Northwest, as seismologists have warned, but Jamie Lee Curtis is making me feel a lot less dorky. As spokesperson for the American Red Cross campaign, Do More Than Cross Your Fingers, she touts her preparedness stance and offers tips for what to put in your emergency kit. I bought a few IKEA SAMLA storage bins for supplies and am starting to fill empty 2-liter plastic bottles with tap water. Originally I was only thinking of storing food and water, but FEMA and the Red Cross suggested much more. So now I will also be packing a First Aid kit, blanket, fleece jackets, some old boots, a Leatherman multi-tool, can opener, flashlight and extra cash. Since an earthquake would likely force us outside our home, I’ll be putting our kit in our detached garage. Depending on the types of catastrophes that could hit your area, an evacuation backpack in your entryway closet or a kit in your basement could make more sense. Have you, too, been inspired by recent events to start an emergency kit, or have you been prepared for a while? What’s in yours? — Ginny F.

From our partners

dreaming of cut flowers

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Last spring, I bought this simple white pitcher from Target for $13.49, along with several packs of wildfower seeds from the Dollar Spot. While I’m still happy with the pitcher, the seeds didn’t sprout. Not a single one. So this year, in addition to trying some more seeds from any place other than Target, I’m also on the hunt for a cut flower farm or farmer’s market. You can find one near you at Local Harvest . — Sarah L.

From our partners

steal this idea: a repurposed book storage solution from ikea

spice rack bookshelves

Repurposing items for nifty and imaginative alternate uses is where it’s at, but repurposing Ikea items? Now that’s where you’re bound to get a project at a price you can’t beat. I’m always amazed by the projects featured on Ikea Hackers, but for those of us with less time, space or power tool prowess, nothing compares to a straight up, no-mess repurpose. Lillian of Domestic Simplicity has a great one with her use of Ikea spice racks, $3.99 each, to store children’s books. With their slim design, the racks are the perfect way to let little ones see the covers of their favorite books while preserving floor space in small bedrooms. –Sarah C.

From our partners

want it now: step ladder by karl malmvall

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Our ceilings are pretty high, which can be both a blessing and a curse. Yes, I love the drama and open feel, but simple things like changing a lightbulb can be a pain without a pretty tall step ladder. So when I spotted the STEP ladder at huset shop, I immediately fell in love. Produced by Design House Stockholm and designed by Karl Malmvall, this step stool is designed to hang on the wall, displayed proudly rather than secreted away in a closet. While I absolutely adore the minimal design, wood frame, and bold red color, the price — a steep $298, is a no-go for me. I wonder how many coats of red spray paint it’ll take to get a similar effect on my current Skinny Mini? — Megan B.

From our partners

kinda genius: web eco furnace filter

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I hate changing the furnace filter every three months — they are expensive, and they just seem to create so much waste. So when I was visiting my mom last week, I noticed she had a nifty reusable filter for her furnace. She said she’s had it for a year and LOVES it. So I bought one, a WEB Eco Filter Plus, as soon as I got back home. I really like how it can be adjusted to fit any size furnace, as we’ve just bent a too-large filter to fit before. It was really easy to customize, too, taking just over five minutes to cut and snap all the pieces together. The instructions suggest you clean it monthly for best results, and I plan on doing that, by just running it through the tub. For the price of two disposable filters, I’ve got a perfect-sized lifetime model. Score! — Megan B.

From our partners