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Friday, November 30, 2012

Hope, Comfort and My First Print Credit!



Wow, oh wow. What a week!

One of my very best friends, Sara McClellan, published a beautiful, inspiring book called The World Needs Hope (available on Amazon.com).

And as excited as I am for Sara, I'm equally excited for me because...

  1. I know her. She's an amazing person and I am so proud of her for accomplishing a dream.

  2. I am credited in print. Yes, sirree! "S.M. Hutchins" appears as Copyeditor and Contributor within the book. It is my first ever print credit!

  3. I am on Amazon?!?! Sara was gracious enough to name me as editor on the book entry, so my name is right there on Amazon. (Hint: If you followed my Facebook page, you got the scoop on this a few days ago. If you don't, run on over and "Like" it now for future scoops!) I had to scramble to set up an Author Central page which you can find at amazon.com/author/smhutchins.


About The World Needs Hope


This book is filled with carefully chosen words to remind readers where hope is present in our lives. It shows us where hope is when we may not be able to see it.

In 20 chapters, Sara walks through what hope is, like Hope is Laughter, Hope is Perseverence, Hope is Acceptance.

Each chapter includes artwork from a different person. You'll find mine in Chapter 2: Hope is Comfort.

That's right. I said mine. I submitted a short passage of text and a photograph to the chapter about Comfort. I chose that chapter because Comfort is one of my core values- to be comfortable in life. Not as in riches galore (though money is always appreciated), rather warmth, family, food. Basic creature comforts.

Check it out at Amazon. (Hint #2: It will be a great Christmas present for those special people on your list!)

Also, find more inspiration on Facebook at facebook.com/worldNeedsHope.

On another topic... Hurricane Recovery


The hurricane may have passed a while ago, but families are still cleaning and rebuilding homes. I made another trip out to the shore last night with more cleaning supplies, non-perishable foods, and a Home Depot gift card.

I stopped at a friend's house where we loaded up the minivan with all sorts of supplies and delivered them to a benefit event. Items collected last night will be given to Lunch Break, a wonderful organization that supplies needy community members with "hot meals, groceries, clothes, and comfort."

Comfort. There's that word again. It's so important.

End of Week Inspiration


I'll leave you with a few passages from The World Needs Hope:

[HOPE] is a peaceful blanket of stars wishing grace down upon you.

It is reaching for a bashful first kiss . . . or a final brush of hair from an aged forehead.

To see the visions of hope all around you is to know the wondrous in the everyday, the unique in the common place.

This weekend, look for how hope and comfort are present in your life. Share what you find here in the comments.

Have a wonderstruck weekend!

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Interview: Prudence MacLeod

Each Wednesday is Wonderstruck Interview day. Hearing other people’s stories is a great way to see things from a different perspective and perhaps find something new to apply to our own lives.

Today's interviewee is Prudence MacLeod, a spiritual seeker, dog trainer, official Reiki Master and Interior designer, and personal trainer who has turned her hand to writing.



What have you been wonderstruck by recently?

Actually, I am often wonderstruck by the very machine I am using to answer these questions. As a child I learned to write with pen and paper. Over the long years I advanced to a manual typewriter, to an electric typewriter, etc. until I arrived at the current computer. Through this machine I can write ten times faster than I could with pen and paper although I am now in my sixties. Pretty darn cool, isn’t it? I think it is amazing.

What part of your day are you grateful for?

First thing. As soon as I stir the dogs start to poke at me with their muzzles. I try to rise, but my partner always pulls me back for another cuddle. I start my day snugged in a warm bed being cuddled by a beautiful woman and nuzzled by four tail wagging dogs. It doesn’t get better than that.

What part of the day is tough? How do you move through it?

Once I’m up my morning kicks into high gear. By 11:00a.m. I have done the housework, made and cleaned up from breakfast, driven K to work, and walked the dogs. Only then do I get my second cup of coffee and sit to the computer to write. The only way to do it is to smile and power through it. If I slow down or stall I get less writing time.

What do you wish you were more conscious of?

People for certain. I have so many wonderful friends and I love hanging out with them. The problem is I get so caught up in writing and trying to promote, social media, etc. that sometimes my people get neglected. I know they don’t disturb me because I’m working, but I do wish they would sometimes. I’d love for some of them to come through the door and drag me away from the computer for a chat.

How do you stay focused on what is truly important to you?

Each morning I ask myself two questions. First I look at my partner and ask how I managed to get so lucky as to be chosen by her. Then I ask what I can do today to make this day a better experience for me and the people I come into contact with. These two questions keep me focused on the important stuff.

About Prudence MacLeod:

I am an avid chess player, not a great one, but an avid one. I build, I bake, I knit, and I tell stories. I have roamed far and wide for over sixty years in this realm, and I have seen much; some I wish I had not, and a great deal that I would love to see again. Some days I feel like Bilbo Baggins, for I have been there and come back again. No, I haven't written a book about my wanderings, but much that I have experienced, observed, learned, surmised, or imagined, is woven into the tales I have written. I do hope you enjoy them.

I actually have several novels on the go right now, three sci-fi and three romances. The one getting the main focus is the sequel to Novan Witch. I’m trying to finish the sequel for NaNoWriMo. You can download about 40K words of the first draft here: https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/252723

It’s free so if anyone wants to read it and give me some feedback, I’d love that.

Find Prudence here:

Website: http://www.prudencemacleod.com/
Smashwords: https://www.smashwords.com/profile/view/Witchhazel
Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Prudence-MacLeod/e/B0079XOY8U
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/Prudence.MacLeod.author?ref=hl
Twitter: https://twitter.com/PrudenceMacLeod

Monday, November 26, 2012

Cherry Pie Poppers: a Pinterest recipe review

Oh, Pinterest. A place where I get tons of ideas and put very few to use. Not anymore!

In recent weeks I've tried out some recipes I previously pinned and I've decided that from now until Christmas I will review one recipe per week, in case you're looking for ideas for the holidays.

Please know as you read this review that I am by no means a culinary expert. Most recipes take me at least twice as long to prepare as the time it says it will take. I haven't spent my whole life in a kitchen. I am, however, pretty good at following instructions on the sides of packages and will make my own judgment call on ingredients lists (which may or may not turn out good).

All that to say, if I can do it, you probably can, too.

Okay, on with the recipe review...

Cherry Pie Poppers


Here is the Pinterest pin: Cherry Pie Poppers

...which leads to this recipe: Hershey Kiss Cutie Pies and Cherry Pie Poppers (I didn't try the Hershey Kiss pies, but they sound good, too!)

I'm not going to repeat the recipe here because you can get it through Pinterest. I'll just let you know how it went for me.

This is a great recipe because you get to use pre-made ingredients, which is awesome if you're not so savvy at baking (I'm not). Just grab a package of pre-made pie crust and a can of cherry pie filling (or another flavor if cherry isn't your thing).

The basic idea is you cut a circular piece of pie crust and place it in a mini muffin pan, add pie filling, then top with a smaller circular piece of pie crust. Cut the top, brush with egg, and bake.

I didn't have circle cutters (as you might use for cookies or biscuits), so I used parts from an Avent baby bottle. The cap for the bottle worked great as the bottom pie crust - the part you slide into the muffin tin to make the bowl.

For the top of the pie, the recipe calls for a smaller circle, so I used the blue and white leak guard ring that comes with the bottles. If you're not familiar with Avent bottles, you're probably confused right now. Here's a picture:



The size of these items worked perfectly for the size of my mini muffin pan. If you don't have "proper" circle cutters either, look around the house. Maybe the lid from a wide-mouth drink might work, or a small drinking glass or jelly jar. Or just tear out circles with your hands. It will add to the homemade appeal.

Also, when you run out of room to cut circles, be sure to squish the dough back into a ball and roll it out flat again to get more out of it. Just make sure that you keep an even number of big bottom circles vs. little top circles, otherwise you may end up with open-faced pies. (And if you do, call them "tartlets." People will think you did it on purpose.)

Anyhow, I sprayed the muffin pan with a non-stick spray (which I don't actually have, but I made this at a friend's house and she did). My muffin pan claims to be non-stick, but I figured it couldn't hurt to make sure.

Filling them looked something like this...



I made sure to get one cherry and some sauce into each little pie. Then I put the caps on...



Now, remember when I said I'm not a culinary expert? Right. Well, the recipe called for brushing the tops with egg. I even brought eggs and a brush with me to do just that.

Then I forgot.

These things happen. I've forgotten a lot worse (like the time I forgot to put water in the rice cooker... or the time I forgot to turn the oven on... or...).

I'm pretty sure the point of the egg is to make the tops brown as they bake.

Mine didn't brown, so they look a little naked, but I assure you they were fully cooked.



I should also mention that when I first pulled them out of the oven, they had kind of exploded. I was certain the whole thing was a bust. Cherry filling was oozing up and out everywhere while little pie hats teetered on top.

As they cooled, however, the cherry filling settled back down into the cups (mostly) and the little pie hats came back down like lids.

Maybe mushing the top and bottom dough pieces together would help? (I say that with a question mark because I have no idea- it's just a theory.)

In the end, they were quite delicious! I'm not a huge fan of pie. That being said, if I'm going to eat pie, I prefer cherry pie or something with berries. These little pies are perfect for me because I get two bites of delicious cherry pie and if I want more I can grab a second. It's not a long-term pie commitment.

Verdict: Yum! Make again. Remember the egg wash. Maybe add a dash of sugar on top to counteract the inherent tartness of pies. Try with different pie fillings like blackberry or raspberry, or mix them together!

Follow me on Pinterest here: http://pinterest.com/smhutchinswrite/

 

 

Friday, November 23, 2012

That Thanksgiving Feeling

Yesterday we celebrated Thanksgiving. My in-laws joined us for a feast and we went around the table saying what we were thankful for.

Now Thanksgiving is over, it's Black Friday, and people are gearing up for Christmas. It's important, though, to remember to give thanks even after the holiday is over. Being thankful isn't a once a year thing. It should be an everyday thing.

Here's a little inspiration to help us all remember to be thankful:

From Henry David Thoreau...
"I am grateful for what I am and have. My thanksgiving is perpetual…O how I laugh when I think of my vague indefinite riches. No run on my bank can drain it, for my wealth is not possession but enjoyment."

From Kiggundu Wilson...
“Promise yourself to wake up every morning with a thankful,
heart as though each day was thanksgiving day.”

From W.T. Purkiser...
"Not what we say about our blessings, but how we use them, is the true measure of our thanksgiving."

From Ann Voskamp in One Thousand Gifts: A Dare to Live Fully Right Where You Are...
“Eucharisteo—thanksgiving—always precedes the miracle.”


What will you give thanks for today?

Monday, November 19, 2012

Home



My home perpetually feels like it's in shambles. There are always projects partway done, items left out on every flat surface, and even if I just swept the floor, it will have debris on it when I come back from putting the broom away. Is it procreating or something?

Sometimes the level of chaos is tolerable. Sometimes it isn't.

This weekend it wasn't. And so began some work: fixing the leaky toilet, putting the wall trim back on (which we hadn't done since finishing the wood floors a few months ago), making room in the kitchen cabinets to take stuff off the counters, throwing out random crap. You know, the lingering kind of projects.

It's just that when enough things get out of control, home starts to feel stifling, hostile even. It's hard to live harmoniously and peacefully in a house that is in disarray.

Today I still feel tense and unfocused.

There is still so much to be fixed, cleaned, and cleared. I just wish I could walk around the house crossing my arms and blinking I-Dream-of-Jeannie style and make it all better. (Don't we all?)

But I know it will get better. We are making progress. For now my plan is to continue focusing on what I can do right now that will make the most impact on my sanity, like moving that stack of boxes out of the corner.

The funny thing is, you might think I was worried about Thanksgiving guests seeing my house. I'm not. We only have a few guests coming, all family, and they see my house on a regular basis. I'm not worried about making any kind of impression on them.

It's just that I'm feeling uncomfortable in my own home. I hate that. I believe home should have a sense of calm. A sense of "sit here and rest for a bit." (Okay, moms definitely have trouble in this area, but let's make it happen, people!)

What do you think? Does the state of your home impact your mood?

Friday, November 16, 2012

End of Week Inspiration Plus How You Can Help Hurricane Victims



You may have noticed some changes this week here at Live Wonderstruck. A new design has taken over. What do you think? Can you feel the energy?

You'll notice changes in many of my online hangouts including Facebook (you have liked the page, right?) and Twitter.

You may see some more tweaks here and there in the coming weeks. Please bear with me as I work to make this space match my vision.

Let me know what you think by commenting here or on my Facebook page.

What else is going on this week?


Mother Nature is still messing with us it seems. Two weeks ago: hurricane. Last week: snow. Last weekend: warm, sunny, 68 degrees. This week: cold, rainy, 46 degrees. I never know how to dress myself or the toddler each morning.

None of that has stopped me from making another trip out to the shore this week, this time to load up the minivan with donations that needed to move from one mission to another. Who knew that simply having a minivan would be helpful to hurricane relief? Awesome. I'm so excited to be able to do something rather than watching helplessly from afar.

You can help hurricane victims!


Do you want to help, too? No matter where you are, you can. The super-nice woman coordinating donations in Lake Como, New Jersey said that they still need cleaning supplies and now need tools and supplies for rebuilding homes.

If you would like to donate supplies, money, or a Home Depot gift card, email me at smhutchinswriter at gmail dot com or message me on Facebook. I will help you make sure your donation gets directly to the people affected by the hurricane. You can send it to me and I will pass it on in your name or I can put you in touch with the coordinator.

Tell your friends and family. Spread the word. Thank you!

Worth reading


There are so many great blogs out there. Here are a few posts I liked this week:

Just In Case by Glennon of Momastery

Glennon is going through a difficult time personally and manages to turn it into profound statements like this...
"And while my life, lower case l, trods along, unpredictable, twisty, turny, scary – Life – capital L - goes on, too. All around me. Same as it ever was."

And also this...
"But we each have a different path – we each have our own lower case l life – different chutes, different ladders. And every chute and each ladder we hit in our lives is an opportunity to practice what we believe about LIFE."

More Than Just Trying to Cope by Kristin Noelle of Trust Tending

Something about Kristin's writing makes me picture a soft-spoken woman who makes you want to be extra quiet to hear the important words she says.
"I believe small steps, taken over time – whether we’re writing a book, or starting a business, or raising children, or learning to move our bodies again – add up. They transform us."

"And learning to do more than 'just cope', learning to trust life DEEPLY, is no exception."

Parenting Teenagers Rule #1: Let Your Fingers Do the Talking - Guest post by Liv Rancourt on Sara Walpert Foster's blog

I'm a fan of both Liv and Sara, so having them together in one post is like a bonus. Liv counts texts with her teenage children as conversations, which is actually a smart way to look at it. She had me laughing from lines like these:
"...like the time I forgot to fill out the back of a permission slip and FROM SCHOOL he texted me a photo of the blank document with the subject: This is a disgrace."

As always...


Be on the lookout for wonderstruck moments today and throughout your weekend. You never know when a simple family breakfast will become a cherished moment. Or maybe a pile of leaves will add color to your day.


 

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Interview: Laird Sapir

Each Wednesday is Wonderstruck Interview day. Hearing other people’s stories is a great way to see things from a different perspective and perhaps find something new to apply to our own lives.

Today's interviewee is website designer and writer Laird Sapir.

[caption id="attachment_692" align="alignleft" width="225"] Laird's Little Man[/caption]What have you been wonderstruck by recently?

A couple of weeks ago I was at a family dinner with my kids, my parents, and miscellaneous other relatives. My dad asked my four year old if he would like to say grace and my little guy nodded and we all joined hands. When little man was done reciting the Pledge of Allegiance, my entire family said "Amen."

I thought it was really funny that little man said the Pledge in place of a prayer, but I was totally wonderstruck by the fact that he knew the entire Pledge of Allegiance. Wowsa. (Also, kind of awesome that my entire family went with it and no one corrected him.)

What part of your day are you grateful for?

Any part of it that is quiet! When the little man is at school and his sister is napping, and I can spend a few minutes in a quiet house, with no interruptions...heaven.

What part of the day is tough? How do you move through it?

Waking up. I am always amazed at people who seem to spring out of bed ready to tackle the day. I am not one of those people. So I bribe myself with coffee. That usually works.

What do you wish you were more conscious of?

I wish I were more conscious of ... gosh, lots of things. I don't even know where to begin!

How do you stay focused on what is truly important to you?

Honestly? It is a daily challenge. I make lots and lots of lists. Lots. of. Lists.

About Laird:

I'm a website designer, writer, and collector of odd facts and random trivia. I have an office supply addiction, a 24 pound cat, and a love of really bad movies.

I'm about to have a serious chat with myself about whipping my own blog into shape, which you can read at lairdsapir.com.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Helping After the Hurricane

Sometimes you just want to help. Many times you don't know how. At least that's how it is for me.

We see these big, life changing natural disasters on the news and think, "wow." We want to help, but it's far away. We aren't sure what to do, so we go about living our own lives.

Except this time the natural disaster was here. This time the hurricane devastated towns that are a 30 minute drive from me.

I had the same thoughts of, "oh, I want to do something," but no excuses this time because it was here.

I kept my eye on Jersey Shore Hurricane News' Facebook page as people posted what was needed (or not needed) where. The need for clothes was fulfilled quickly. I didn't feel I could appropriately help with gutting homes because I have a toddler in tow at all times.

Then a friend posted on Facebook some needs for her local township: baby supplies, cleaning supplies, new socks and underwear.

A specific need with a specific location and I could follow up with her for details.

A few days later another friend and I packed our kiddos in the minivan and made a trip. We stopped at Walmart to stock up.



We had diapers in four sizes, wipes, bleach, ammonia, spray bottles, sponges, rags, paper towels, trash bags, toilet paper, water, socks, feminine supplies, pain reliever, children's pain reliever, and lip balm.

Such simple things that some people don't have anymore.



We loaded up the trunk of the van and we were on our way to Lake Como Borough Hall where individuals and fire/first aid companies have been showing up for supplies. When we arrived, they had just given out their last roll of paper towels.

Surreal.

I used that word last week and I'm using it again because it's the only thing I keep thinking about this whole thing.

Before we left for home, we drove around Lake Como and neighboring Belmar to see how things looked.

Lined up on the shore were piles of debris like these. The ocean is in the background. Somewhere.



 



 



In front of the homes a few blocks in-land, the results of their clean up efforts line the streets.



 



It's hard to see the destruction, yet inspiring to see the work that has already been done.

I'm headed back to Belmar and Lake Como tomorrow, this time to help redistribute supplies to other shelters.

Friday, November 9, 2012

Basic Comforts



What a week. Ever since our power came back on Sunday (along with running water), I've been taking advantage: laundry, washing dishes, baths, showers, cleaning, cleaning, cleaning. Sleeping with heat. Such luxuries.

Just as things were beginning to feel normal again we were slammed with a snow storm on Wednesday.



The power flickered. It went out. It came back. Flickered a few times, went out. I sat in a bathtub in pitch black nothingness. Breathe.

The lights popped on. Power again. Thankfully.

The next morning I woke to power still on and about 8 inches of snow on the ground. Wasn't it just last week we had a hurricane? Now snow? What is going on here? Well played, Mother Nature. Well played.

No worries. At least we still had power which was more than some people in our town could say.

Until we didn't. Because that morning it went out. Again.

We spent the day with temperatures dropping indoors. We pulled out my in-laws' generator which we hadn't yet returned. I thought about the clothes I had washed first thing that morning and hadn't yet moved to the dryer. That would not be a pretty smell later.

Fortunately the power came back on that evening. I wasn't looking forward to sleeping in the cold again.

All this to say, I'm feeling a little weird. I'm on guard. I'm worried about when and for how long we will lose power next. I'd like to feel comfortable again.

Then I think about the families who have suffered worse from Hurricane Sandy. Like my friend in Long Island who had serious flooding and is now trying to get her car replaced, find a new place to live, and replace kids' toys.

Like the families whose meals are coming from shelters and kind businesses offering free food.

Like the people who are shoveling sand, debris, and water out of their homes to see what can be salvaged.

I am so very lucky.

Today I'm headed to the shore with baby supplies, cleaning supplies, and clothing, where another friend has been volunteering time in a town hall to help victims get the basic things they need.

No one should have to be without clean underwear and socks. They just shouldn't. So, that's what I'm taking, along with diapers, baby wash, soap, sponges.

Because everyone should be so lucky.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Kid Interview: Samantha

Each Wednesday is Wonderstruck Interview day. Hearing other people’s stories is a great way to see things from a different perspective and perhaps find something new to apply to our own lives.

Today is going to be fun because this is a Wonderstruck Interview: Kid Edition. Yay! Samantha is 10 years old and in the 5th grade in Virginia. She is a competitive gymnast and refers to me as her Fairy Godmother. (Yes, that is the best title I could ever, ever hold. Ever!)

What have you been wonderstruck by recently?

There is a new girl on my gymnastics team and the first time I saw her vault, I was amazed at how perfect it was. It makes me wish I could vault like her. I love watching her.

What part of your day are you grateful for?

The part of the day I am grateful for is when I'm in school and I get to learn so much from my teacher and I love her lessons and when she teaches me.

What part of the day is tough? How do you move through it?

The toughest part of my day is when this kid in my class is bothering me. He makes it hard to focus on my work and he sometimes hurts my feelings. I move through it by working harder to focus on my teacher and pretend he's not there.

What do you wish you were more conscious of?

I wish I was more aware of the way I speak to other people. Some of my friends think my voice can be bossy, so I need to make sure my voice is nicer and softer.

How do you stay focused on what is truly important to you?

All I have to do is think of my family and that's how I stay focused on what's truly important to me, in school and in gymnastics.

About Samantha:

I practice gymnastics 4 days a week for a total of 14 hours. My favorite meal is red beans and rice. My favorite dessert is ice cream and cookies. My favorite musician is Taylor Swift, and my favorite song is You Belong with Me. My favorite TV show is NCIS. My favorite movies are Hocus Pocus and Tin Man.

Is this kid wonderstruck or what? Show her some love by leaving her some comments.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Facebook Updates

As you may have heard already, Facebook has made some changes to their site that mean you may not be seeing updates from pages you have "liked" in your newsfeed.

To be sure you see updates from me, please go to my Facebook page and click on the "Like" button. A drop-down menu will come up. Click "Add to Interests list... ." This should get you back in the wonderstruck goodness loop.

And if you weren't already following me on Facebook, why not start today? :)

See you around the interwebs!

Monday, November 5, 2012

Hurricane Sandy Aftermath

Happy Halloween! What? It’s not Halloween where you are? Well... this is awkward.

You see, here in New Jersey, it’s Halloween. Because everyone was (and is) still trying to recover from Hurricane Sandy (with most everyone out of power at that point), the Governor postponed Halloween celebrations.

So, tonight while you and your loved ones talk about the day’s work and shuffle kids through homework, we will be shuffling our kids through the neighborhood to trick-or-treat. No sense for sweet tooths to suffer (or is it sweet teeth?).

When Sandy sees all the merriment, maybe her heart will grow two sizes and she’ll return the Christmas trees. Wait... I think I’m getting confused. I’m also pretty sure we’re not getting any of our trees back.



Anyhow, let’s talk about the hurricane a little.

My town was affected most by power outages, downed trees and, therefore, road closures. So many trees fell on my street that the neighborhood actually looks like a whole new place. We lost 4 trees in my yard. Someone said they counted 60 trees down along our formerly tree-lined streets.

Power went out Monday afternoon as Hurricane Sandy started rolling in. We pulled out a big generator we bought after last year’s storm and hooked it up. That supplied us with power for almost 3 hours before it stopped working.

We called the company who makes it the next day who informed us we would have to take it to be repaired (not easy considering all the road closures) and gave us the number of a semi-nearby shop. That shop was flooded and had a tree fall through it’s building so the owner said he wouldn’t be open for a while, but even if he were he’d have to order parts from Ohio. Basically, we were kind of screwed as far as getting that generator working again.

My in-laws, who mercifully didn’t lose power at all, brought us their generator. It was smaller than ours so we had to pick and choose what to run. Usually that meant heat for one floor, the refrigerator, and a few lights.

Because we have a well, we were also without running water for the week. Oh, yes. Good times. We were flushing our toilets with buckets of water from the bathtub which we had filled before Sandy’s arrival.

On Thursday we managed to get the generator to run our well pump (by turning absolutely everything else off) long enough to take short showers.

We didn’t run the generator at night, so it got quite cold at night. After waking one morning to find my toddler with blue lips, blue feet, and coughing, I took him down to Maryland for a couple nights at the end of the week. My dad had both heat and running water. Talk about luxury!

Our power was finally restored yesterday morning. I have never been so excited to do laundry and wash dishes. Living without power and water is a nuisance.

That’s all, though. It’s just a nuisance. While I’ve griped about not being able to clean, many people have lost their homes to floods and fires. Houses are in the water and boats are on land. One house floated to the middle of a major road. A train ended up on the turnpike. A roller coaster sits in the ocean. Gas leakages have led to fires. The images are almost surreal.

There are people, particularly whose homes were on the shore, who haven’t even been able to get back yet to find out what’s left, if anything. I can’t imagine what that feels like.

Food and water shelters have been setup for people who can’t get these basic resources. Some people are in need of clothing and warm blankets.

Getting gas has proven problematic for anyone trying to fill up their car or a gas can to keep a generator running. Many gas stations are still without power and closed. The ones that are open have lines out to the street. Often they only accept cash, which means you also have to find a working ATM before you even get to the gas station.

As of this weekend, gas is being rationed in most of New Jersey. On odd dates, cars with license plates ending in odd numbers can get gas. On even dates, license plates ending in even numbers can.

Even as I type that, it sounds too ridiculous to be true. Yet, here we are.

Bad things are happening. There have been fist fights over gas. On my own street, someone tried to steal a generator and break into a house that they thought was unoccupied. They were wrong and apparently ran off after the owner turned on her flashlight and her dogs starting lunging at the windows.

How much desperation one must feel to try to steal a generator.

And still, there is so much generosity. As other people around me regained power, I’ve had multiple invitations to go warm up, charge my phone, do laundry, and shower.

In Hoboken, people who weren’t affected by flooding and got power back quickly set up charging stations in their front yards for neighbors to plug in their phone- extension cords run through the front yard and maybe even a few patio chairs to rest in.

In my small town, one business offered free chain saw sharpening this weekend. As I mentioned, a lot of trees are down all around here, so this makes clean up a little easier.

The local clothing screening company created “Jersey Strong” t-shirts with all proceeds going to relief efforts.

In another town someone loaded up firewood in front of their house and offered it free to anyone who needed it to stay warm.

In a store where people waited to buy generators, the last person who had a ticket to do so gave his ticket away to someone else who was housing families displaced by the flood. Because of that person gave up their generator, a house temporarily holding 14 people had power that night.

Utility workers from our state have worked long hours in the cold to restore power. Utility workers have even come in from other states to help.

There is still so much good in this world.

So that’s what’s been happening here. There is still a long road ahead for many. I ask that you pray, if so inclined, for all of the families affected.

If you are in New Jersey or want to know what is happening with relief efforts here, follow Jersey Shore Hurricane News on Facebook. This is an incredible resource that gives updates on the devastation, where people can find shelter and resources, time tables for power restoration, and how you can help.

Here are links to some of the images, in case you've missed them:

If you want to help, check the Jersey Shore Hurricane News Facebook page I mentioned earlier to see what people are requesting and where. If you are local and can provide shelter, power, or supplies to someone in need, please do so. The White House also has a page on their website with lots of ways to help: How to Help Survivors of Hurricane Sandy.