Hurricane Sandy – One Year Later


You sit in your home and watch things like this on TV all the time.   A tornado, an earthquake, a hurricane, a mudslide, a flood.  You sit on your couch and think, “That is terrible, I feel so bad for those people.” On October, 29, 2012, the people of Long Beach, NY as well as many other towns in Long Island, NYC, and NJ became “those people.”

You stand in your kitchen cooking dinner and see images of the National Guard, FEMA, The American Red Cross, and volunteers sorting trough the remains of people’s belongings, rebuilding, and saving lives on your television.  You may send donations, you may send money, you may even volunteer your time…or maybe you just offer up a thought, a prayer, a message of hope.    You never really understand the reality of what a natural disaster actually means until you live through it.  I had been on the other side of the television many times and felt terrible for whatever it was and whoever it was having to live through the disaster.  It was a whole other world being one of the people on the television.

The weather service had predicted a hurricane or possible a tropical storm hitting us the week before.  We had been hit the year before with Hurricane Irene and the damage to the community wasn’t too bad… a few fallen trees, power outages,  a few flooded basements.  This time it was different…very different.  My town, as well as all the other zone A flood zones had a mandatory evacuation.  My husband and I as well as many other people in the town did not evacuate.  We lived in a second floor apartment and figured we’d be okay…stupid I know.  But during Irene many evacuated and nothing happened…it was sort of like the boy who cried wolf.  I was prepared…I had flashlights and candles, extra batteries, and extra water ….I even filled up the bath tub with water.  I had plenty of food and plenty of wine.  I was prepared.  Or so I thought.

The worst of the storm hit the evening of the 29th.  My sister came over to our apartment because she lived in a basement apartment and we figured it would be better on the second floor.  We sat in my apartment, watching TV, drinking wine, laughing.  The rain and wind weren’t too bad.  Then around 8:30pm, it was the peak of high tide.  Long Beach is a barrier island…we have the ocean on one side…the bay on the other.  Steve was out on the deck when he yelled for us to come outside.  Water was coming down one side of the street…slowly at first.  Then a little faster.  The water got higher and higher.  I had never seen anything like it in my life.  At that moment the power went out.  We didn’t know then but that was the last power we’d see in our apartment for a month.  The water continued to rise…it covered the roofs of the cars on our block.  We could see debris and pieces of the boardwalk floating down the street.  I felt like this couldn’t really be happening.  It was all so surreal.  We could hear car alarms and explosions all around the neighboring streets.  Our landlord knocked on our door asking Steve to go next door to help carry our neighbor who is in a wheelchair to the safety of the upstairs apartment because his apartment was starting to flood.  A few hours later the water seemed to stop rising and we finally got some sleep.

The next morning we walked outside to look around.  Everywhere, people started emerging from their houses with dazed looks on their faces.   It felt like we were on a movie set.  This could not be the town that I knew and loved.  There were cars pushed onto people’s lawns or into the middle of the street.  There was garbage and pieces of fence in the street.  I saw brick walls knocked over.  Huge sections of the boardwalk blocks away from where they originated.  I even saw someones hot tub in a parking lot.  And the sand…it was everywhere.  Piles of it…burying peoples cars…up to the windows in people’s houses.  There were cars that had caught fire from the salt water short circuiting the battery.  Several houses burned to the ground.

We headed over to my sister’s apartment to see how it fared the storm.  When we got there we couldn’t even open the door because the water was almost up to the ceiling.  We couldn’t believe it.  Nobody thought it wouldn’t be this bad…but it was.  She lost everything.

The days, weeks, and months after the storm were filled with uncertainty for so many people.  Where am I going to live?  How will I ever rebuild?  Where can I get gas for my car without having to wait hours on a gas line?  And the daily things we take for granted…where will I be able to get food and clean water?

I was teaching in a school in Far Rockaway, Queens, which is also a barrier island.  My school was flooded and we got word that we would not be able to return for a while. In a matter of hours, Mother Nature had turned my whole world upside down.   No place to live.  No school to return to.

Within hours of the storm hitting, people came to our town.  People came to help.  People came to support us.  People came to give us hope.  People came with truckloads of supplies to hand out.  People and businesses  in the community opened their doors to offer whatever they could to others when they, themselves had taken a big hit.  Food, blankets, water, a cold beer, or a hug.  People organized fundraisers and food drives to get the much-needed supplies to the people affected.  I got messages on Facebook from people just checking in to see if we were okay and if there was anything that we needed.   The kindness of family, friends, and strangers was overwhelming.

I can not say thank you enough to my family for giving us a place to stay for a month, everyone who donated supplies to my school, and everyone who sent thoughts and prayers our way.  You will never know how much it is appreciated.

Now, a year later,  things are different.  The places we once knew are not the same.  There is a new boardwalk and some of the businesses have reopened.  Some people have rebuilt their homes and some are still in the process.  But everyone is recovering in their own way, at their own pace.

“Ruin is a gift.  Ruin is the road to transformation.”  ~ Elizabeth Gilbert

Everyone in this area has a story…a different experience from the storm.  The photos I took in the days after the storm are in this video…this is part of my experience.

Weekly Chalkboard Message


This weekend was busy.  We had two weddings to attend and tried to unpack some more of these never-ending boxes.  We did manage to get some of the boxes with decorations and other storage items up into the attic and Steve put together the bistro set for the sun room.  I’ll post some photos of that later this week.  We also managed to spend some time hiking on the nature trails by our house, enjoying this gorgeous fall weather.  I changed the chalkboard message that I posted about last week.  Since Halloween is Thursday, this week I did surprise, surprise a Halloween quote.


Here’s some more of what our weekend looked like.





Happy fall,


DIY Vintage Switch Plate Covers

DIY Vintage Switchplates

Anthropologie has these amazing switch plate covers.  I love them and decided to make my own.  I ordered these switch plates from Amazon.  They were already antiqued but I didn’t want the antique white color which was more of a cream than a white.  Plus, I wanted to add a little blue and green to them since everything in my kitchen is white.

Here’s what you’ll need for this project:

  • switchplate
  • drop cloth
  • white spray paint
  • sandpaper
  • acrylic paint
  • paintbrush
  • clear acrylic sealer

Here’s what they looked like before


You can use any type of spray paint that you want.  I decided to play around with the aqua spray paint that I already had but you can use just the white.


A neat trick I saw on Pinterest for painting only the tops of screws is to stick them into a piece of cardboard or the top of a shoe box.


Lay out your backdrop and place your switch plates onto a piece of cardboard. I’ve got plenty from all the boxes that are still everywhere!


Next, spray each switch plate with white spray paint.  You may need 2 coats depending on the coverage you’re looking for.  The good thing about vintage is it doesn’t have to be perfect.


After the spray paint was dry, I  sprayed a little of the aqua spray paint onto the screws and the switch plates.



Next, I used some acrylic paint I already had to add some color to the switch plates.   Again, don’t worry about them being perfect…you can’t mess this up.  If you’re not happy with them you can always go back and spray paint them white again.



After letting the paint dry, I sanded the switch plates.  Some of the metal and the white paint underneath should be showing.

Switchplate collage

I then whitewashed the switch plates by mixing white acrylic paint with water.  I let it dry and decided I wanted them to be a little more white, so I whitewashed them again and let them dry.

After the second coat of whitewash, I sprayed them with a clear spray to seal them.

Here’s what I used but any clear varnish will work.


And that’s it…DIY switch plates!


Happy creating,


Sharing At:

DIY Show Off


Chalkboard Messages

The teacher in me loves a chalkboard.  Steve was saying he wanted a whiteboard to hang in the kitchen for list making.  The boy loves his lists.  I told him instead we should look for a chalkboard, since they’re all the rage right now.  I happened to be in Marshalls on Sunday and found a chalkboard that goes perfectly in our kitchen.  It has a white shabby-chic frame around it.  Total score!  Instead of lists, I decided to use this for messages.  I absolutely adore quotes, sayings, song lyrics…anything inspiring really. I have a whole collection of them on Pinterest.  Chances are whatever I’m feeling or have going on in my life, someone has already been through it and probably already wrote about it/said it better than I ever could.

 “Derek says it’s always good to end a paper with a quote. He says someone else has already said it best. So if you can’t top it, steal from them and go out strong.” – American History X

 See, right there’s a perfect example.  I plan on changing the message weekly.  I ordered these chalk markers which are much neater than having all that chalk dust around and easier to write with.


 So I guess we’ll have to figure something else out for Steve’s lists. 🙂

All you need is love,


All You Need is Love…and a Dog.

Steve and I moved into an apartment in Brooklyn in October 2007.  I grew up with dogs…and cats…and birds…and turtles…and snakes…and hamsters…and lizards…basically any animals I could talk my mom into letting me have, I had.  Steve on the other hand never had any pets growing up.  In April 2008, we decided we were going to get a dog.  Actually it went more like this… We were walking on the Brooklyn Heights Promenade and I said, “Wouldn’t it be great if we were walking our dog here?” Steve agreed that it would be pretty cool and I immediately jumped on the opportunity.  And when I say immediately, I mean I took out my phone and googled local shelters that second.  We decided to go to the Animal Care and Control in Staten Island.  When we walked in there were two rows of pens and lots of barking and excited dogs.  When I walked in, I looked into the first cage and there was a little tan and white pit bull laying in the back.  She looked up at me with these sad eyes.  I put my hand up to the cage and she slowly got up and walked over and licked my hand.  She then turned right back around and walked back to her bed and laid down.  I immediately knew this was my dog.  I continued walking through and looked at all the other dogs.  I wish I could have taken them all.  We asked to see the first dog and the woman took her out and we brought her outside.  She was so happy to be outside playing in the grass.  I looked at Steve and said we had to get her!   He agreed and so we filled out the adoption papers that day.  We were so happy to hear we were approved for the adoption! They kept her another day to spay her and then we were able to pick her up. She was estimated to be about 8 months old at the time.  Daisy is now 6 years old and the love of our lives! I have an obsession with my dog…I just can’t help it.  I even named my blog after her…I’m that obsessed.  And now I’m just going to overload you with Daisy pics…because she’s just that adorable.


She thinks she’s a lap dog!



Daisy’s First Snow



Daisy’s First Time at the Beach in Coney Island2320_74395983184_6259_n

At the Apartment in Brooklyn


Swimming Upstate




Playing in the Snow in Vermont167571_10150135442728185_6840176_n





I know the stereotype that pit bulls have but I honestly will probably never have another type of dog.  So many great dogs are put down because of their breed.  Shelters are filled with awesome dogs looking for a home.  If you’re looking for a fur baby, please check out your local animal shelters or online rescue sights.  In the NYC/Long Island area you can check out:

Your best friend is waiting.

Peace, love, and pit bulls,


Man vs. Ivy

DSC_0618We have a lot of ivy on the property….a lot!  One of the first things we wanted to do was get the ivy off of the house, patio, and deck because it can cause a lot of damage.  The ivy was growing up the side of the house and under the siding. It actually cracked the siding in some spots. There was even some ivy I saw coming into the basement through the windows.  Bad news!  Steve got right to work ripping it out by the patio.  This stuff is crazy hard to get rid of because it breaks apart in little sections and has these little roots that look almost like fingers that stick to everything.  It also has some really thick roots that grow very deep into the ground.





 Some of the roots were thicker than our garden hose!


Getting rid of this stuff was an epic battle.DSC_0600


And I mean epic…


Steve pulled all the ivy out of the patio area.  It looks much better now.  We’re going to have to figure out some type of spray, preferable something organic, to keep this stuff from growing back.




We still have to do the other side of the fence and under the deck.  There’s also other areas on the property where the ivy has taken over.


Anybody else have issues with ivy? Any tips on getting rid of it?



Happy Fall

We are slowly and I mean sloooowly digging our way out from underneath the boxes.  It’s actually starting to look like we live here!  One of my favorite things is decorating for holidays so I decided to do a little autumn decorating in the front of the house.   I went to our local nursery and got a few mums, some pumpkins, and a few hay bales.  I also found a really cute scarecrow at Home Depot.  I tried a couple of different arrangements and was finally satisfied with this one.

Fall Decor Collage

Super cute and easy! I love fall colors.  These gorgeous hydrangeas are right in front of our stoop.  I’m going to cut a few and dry them to put in the dining room.


I also found a few other things to jazz up the front of the house.

I got this monogramed doormat on Amazon.


I hung this seashore themed wreath that I already had in our old apartment.


I got these solar lights on Amazon to provide a little light for the walkway.

Solar Light Collage

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And that’s it…just a few simple things to make this house feel like home. 🙂

xoxo, Geralyn