post off: are you ready for a weather disaster in your house?

Even though we heard about Sandy’s approach days before she arrived, we were still surprised by the wallop she punched in our community and neighboring areas. Luckily, our house was unharmed, but others, like the ones around the corner in the photo above, were not so fortunate. We thought we were ready. We had a big box of tea lights, plenty of water and a pile of firewood. By day four without electricity and rapidly dipping temperatures, we realized weren’t prepared to last more than a few days without power. Now we’re investigating generators and putting together a must-get list of survival supplies. Topping that list: portable gas cans. Who knew that gas stations couldn’t run without electricity? Having a generator is pretty useless if there is not fuel around to charge it. Rather than tough it out in our cold house, we fled to Ohio to visit family. We should be able to return soon, now that things getting back to normal. Hopefully before the next storm we’ll be ready!

What have you done in your home to get ready for the worst? Do you have a stash of supplies in the basement? A bug-out bag?

my new paranoia: fear of falling trees

This is a repost from last year. Stay safe if you’re in a Sandy zone!

I’m always remarking how much safer I felt living in the city rather than the ‘burbs. On dark and stormy nights, I miss being in close proximity of other apartment dwellers and having only one point of entry into our home. I also miss sleeping in a 12-story brick building that I know can’t be toppled by a falling tree. This weekend we were figuratively blown away by an extremely rare October snow storm. It was cold, wet and dangerous: The still-green leaves clung to tree branches, catching the damp heavy clumps as they fell from the sky, adding tons of weight to branches. Isadora and I sat inside, watching the spectacle out of the windows. POP! Down a limb would come crashing, just missing our neighbor’s car. Luckily no serious damage was done, but now I can’t help but look at the massive oak tree in our front yard with trepidation. It seems criminal to chop down a tree that’s been around hundreds of years. How do you know when it’s time to say good-bye tree, hello chain saw? This slide show, How Safe Are Your Trees at iVillage, offers some handy assessment ideas. Be on the lookout for warning signs like dead branches, splits in the trunk or even mushrooms growing out of the roots. — Angela M.

Have you ever had property damage caused by falling limbs or trees? Share your horror stories here!

Image from iVillage/Getty

30 days of halloween: creepy baby arm soap

Is there anything more creepy than a box of old, beaten up, forgotten dolls you discover at a yard sale? Only perhaps, dismembered dolls, whose heads and limbs have gone astray. Perhaps they have wondered over to your house and ended up in your soap dish? That’s what’s your guests might think when they spot these chubby nubs in your bathroom. Real soap made from vegan glycerin, these baby doll arms will sud up your hands and send a chill down your spine. Baby powder scented, of course. Set of two is $6 at perpetualkid.com.

method’s new ocean plastic bottle takes recycling to a whole new level

Lets face we it: We don’t think about where our plastic comes from — or where it goes when we’re done with it — nearly enough. Sure we clean things out and toss it in the appropriate bin, but then what? Even the best intentions can end up in a landfill — or worse, washed up on a distant shore of a far away beach. No one knows this better than employees of Method, like creative director Sally Clark, who spent time over the past year and half literally picking up bits of plastic waste from the beaches of Hawaii.

Method partnered with Envision Plastics, an innovative recycling company, to develop a way to turn rigid, opaque plastics recovered from the ocean into high quality recycled plastic. The slate gray color is the material’s natural state, and is the result of the chopping, washing and blending undergoes during recycling. Slightly resembling a sea urchin with small ridges running its length, the bottle contains a super clean smelling 2-and-1 hand and dish soap, that will freshen up even the worst-onion-chopping hands. The limited-edition product is available at Whole Foods and at methodhome.com for $5. A portion of the proceeds will go to Sustainable Coastlines Hawai’i and the Kōkua Hawai’i Foundation so more beaches can become plastic-free.

worth considering: bark shingles for the exterior?

A while we posted about an unusual siding option from Japan: Burnt wood. Now we’ve stumbled upon another gorgeous idea, and this one has its roots in North Carolina. This gorgeous place is home to Brent and Autumn Simmons in the Blue Ridge Mountains. It has a wonderful style that blends rustic mountain good looks with a modern, calm sensibility. Its amazing exterior is made up of bark shingles, which originated in the region in the early 1900s. Beautiful and sturdy, they’re supposed to last up to 75 years. They need no sealers or preservatives and have a natural durability. And best of all, they’re made with a part of the tree that is often discarded. You can visit barkhouse.com for more info on the materials. To see more of the Simmons’ home, visit this Houzz gallery.

We think they’re pretty gorgeous, and love the way they look on a modern home. Would you give them a try?

Photos by Christopher Kellie Design.