Showing posts from 2012

Christmas Traditions

Merry Christmas Eve! I hope you are having a wonderful day as you get ready for Christmas. Personally, I love Christmas Eve! More than I like Christmas, even. I also love Christmas Eve Eve, which was yesterday. I don't know. There's just something about the anticipation that gets me all giddy. My stepson, now 15-years-old, often counts the days down. I still remember a few years ago when it was "only two days ‘til Christmas," for about a week. Wishful thinking? I can’t help but share his enthusiasm. I love Christmas. I love the lights, the bustle of people (okay, maybe not the bustle of people), and wrapping gifts in cheerful paper. Inevitably at some point today, he will ask, "but when are we going to read the little book?" The first time he asked (a few years ago) my heart filled with joy. You see, "the little book" is one of my Christmas ornaments. It is a 2x2" red leather bound copy of The Night Before Christmas. It has crisp aged white pa

Anyone else feeling a little frantic today?

Winter solstice is here. It is the shortest day of sunlight for the year. After today each day will get a tiny bit more light as we work our way back to long summer days. Eventually. Today is also the day the Mayan calendar ends. I saw one weather report for the week showing clouds and cold temperatures all week long with today's forecast showing firey meteors hurtling down and a high temperature of 1250 degrees. Saturday's weather was blank. No meteors here. Let me know if you see anything suspicious. More pressing, though, (more pressing than the potential end of life as we know it?) is Christmas is coming. In just four short days, we must be ready for family, gift exchanges, and trying to remember what Christmas is really about in the middle of all that family time and gifting. Fortunately we aren't hosting Christmas. That means I don't have to cook- yay! There is still plenty to do and I'm feeling a bit frantic today about it all. I'm running my washing mach

Interview: Sara McClellan

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 one of my closest friends and author of the new book The World Needs Hope, Sara McClellan. (The very same book I've been mentioning here recently because it also includes my first print credit.) Sara is a writer with nearly 20 years of creative communications experience. She chose to transform personal loss into a mission of positive change. Sara dedicates her voice to awakening the world to the inspiring presence and power of hope. What have you been wonderstruck by recently? Just a blink ago, I was wonderstruck by the emphatic sound of an escaped cockatoo traversing the neighborhood. After trying to woo it over to my patio with an ├╝ber-healthy breakfast cereal—to no avail, I might add—my bright white friend, instead, opted to serenade me from the vent to my attic

Pinterest Recipe Review: Blackberry Cider

Each week in December I've been reviewing recipes that I found on Pinterest. It seemed about time to actually try some of those things I kept pinning, so I thought I'd share the results in case you were looking for something new to try for the holidays. I've already reviewed Cherry Pie Poppers , Apple Cider Sangria , and Cookie Dough Balls . Next up: Blackberry Cider. Here is the pin: Blackberry Cider on Pinterest ... which leads to this recipe on the Driscoll's website . Check out the photo through either link. I forgot to take pictures. I won't repeat the recipe here. You can get that from the links above. I'll just let you know how it went for me. Stellar! And here's why... my husband made it. Anything I don't have to make is okay by me. While I was busy working on Thanksgiving side dishes, my husband took it upon himself to take my printout of this recipe and get to work. I love him. The basic idea is to simmer apple cider with blackberries, orange

Interview: Ellen Gregory

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 fantasy fiction writer Ellen Gregory. What have you been wonderstruck by recently? A few weeks ago, when rigorously pruning in my garden, I chopped down a branch that held a birds’ nest (which I initially didn’t realize) and two tiny recently hatched chicks tumbled out. Improvising madly, I got the nest back into the tree and spent the next several days avidly watching the two parent birds (Australian silver eyes) feed their chicks. I watched those little chicks grow stronger and larger, develop feathers — felt amazingly protective, fascinated and definitely wonderstruck by them. Unfortunately they disappeared from the nest when I went away for a few days, so I like to believe they found their wings and flew away. What part of your day are you grateful for? I suspect my

Pinterest Recipe Review: Cookie Dough Balls

Each week this month I am reviewing one recipe I found on Pinterest. After collecting a number of scrumptious looking foods on my Cooking board, I realized I should probably start actually making them. Novel concept, I know. I've already reviewed Cherry Pie Poppers and Apple Cider Sangria . This week: Cookie Dough Balls. Here is the Pinterest pin: Cookie Dough Balls ...which leads to this recipe: Cookie Dough Balls on Love and Olive Oil site I won't reprint the recipe here. You can get that from the links above. Basically, you make egg-free cookie dough, roll it into balls, freeze on a cookie sheet, then dip in chocolate and refrigerate. I'm going to say right off the bat, I had some ups and downs with this recipe. Mixing the cookie dough was easy. Rolling the dough, also easy. At a friend's recommendation (who had previously made the same thing with a different recipe), I rolled the balls a bit smaller than the recipe called for. My friend had used a melon baller and

The Book is Here! (And also, a quick poll)

It's here! It's here! The book with my name and my creative work in it arrived on my doorstep on Monday! The World Needs Hope  is an inspirational book written by my good friend, Sara McClellan. I copyedited this book. It's my first print credit. :) Even better, I contributed art. A photograph and short passage of text, both by me, appear at the end of Chapter 2: Comfort. (Yes, I'm smiling as I type this. It's so freakin' exciting!) Holding this book in my hands, flipping through the pages... I can't describe the feeling. It's amazing. This is a beautiful project and I feel so lucky to be a part of it. Please Answer a Poll Question In other creative news, I've been working behind the scenes on this blog and I could use your help. There is a poll at the top of my Facebook page right now asking whether you read this blog on a computer or your phone, on the Live Wonderstruck site or in a reader. I'm still tweaking design and I want to make sure I&#

Interview: Siri Paulson

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 science fiction and fantasy writer Siri Paulson. What have you been wonderstruck by recently? Sunsets. I used to live in Alberta, which has the most glorious sunsets. Then I moved to downtown Toronto, to an apartment in a cluster of high-rises, and could barely see the western sky. I thought Toronto just didn't have nice sunsets. But this spring I bought a house, and my new writing space has a good western view...and boy, is it spectacular some evenings. If I'm at home at the right time of day, I try to remember to look. What part of your day are you grateful for? Any part I get to spend with my husband. Our schedules aren't meshing that well right now, in part because we're both so busy, so the time that we do get to spend together is precious. We often

Pinterest Recipe Review: Apple Cider Sangria

A few weeks ago, I was looking at my Pinterest boards at all sorts of ideas I've collected since joining. That's when my husband came up and saw my "Cooking" pin board and asked, "How come you never make any of these? That looks good and... ooooh, that one... and this one, this, this, and... get on it, woman!" (He says these things in happy love, not like a drill sargeant.) So, I've been trying some out. From now until Christmas, I'm reviewing one recipe found on Pinterest each week. Last week was Cherry Pie Poppers (yum!). This week, Apple Cider Sangria (also yum!). Here is the Pinterest pin: Apple Cider Sangria ...which leads to this recipe: Apple Cider Sangria on How Sweet It Is ( Be sure to visit that link for the beautiful photography. Your mouth will water! (Aside from which, I didn't take any pictures.) I won't rewrite the recipe here. You can get that through the above links. The basic idea is to mix white wine

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 ). And as excited as I am for Sara, I'm equally excited for me because... I know her. She's an amazing person and I am so proud of her for accomplishing a dream. 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! 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 . About The World Needs Hope This book is filled with carefully chosen words to remind readers where hope is present in our

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

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 goi

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 Thous


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 a

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'

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 cor

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 fo

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 thou

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 cl

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!

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 ya

Blame Sandy for the Lack of Post

No post today. That's a weird thing to say in what is technically a post. Nonetheless, that's what I'm here to say. We are still without power after Hurricane Sandy. I'm typing this from my cell phone. Rest assured my family is safe. But for the power outage, consequent lack of running water, and a few lost trees, our home is in tact. There are still plenty of people here in New Jersey with bigger problems than mine. Please keep those families in your thoughts and prayers. Live Wonderstruck will return to regular posting when my power has been restored.

Waiting for the Storm

Here in New Jersey (northeast United States for those readers in other countries), we are bracing for Hurricane Sandy. The media has tossed around terms like "a storm for the history books." Stores were packed as early as Friday morning as people tried to load up on water, batteries, bread, and other supplies. For some reason people also seem to go for milk and eggs which doesn't make much sense to me because (at least at my house) we often lose power, so anything that requires refrigeration isn't going to survive anyway. We moved our patio furniture to the shed and strapped our grill down. We've placed all the flashlights, candles, and lighters where we can easily find them. We have non-perishable food and water. We are as ready as we are going to be. Waiting for the storm is a weird feeling. Last night we sat around the house looking out the window every so often. The rain was supposed to start at 4:00 p.m. yesterday, yet there wasn't a single drop of rain b

Interview: Alina Weldon

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 a treat for me because I got to interview my best friend of... ahem... well... as she told me earlier this year, "our friendship is now old enough to drink." Phew. That's a lot of years. We've been friends since high school despite living miles and states apart. Meet Alina Weldon: a defense contractor in Washington, D.C., mother to a fierce (in the awesome way) daughter, and a heck of a dancer. Oh, and for the record, I chose this photograph because I love the pure happiness that shows all over her face when she laughs. So much joy! What have you been wonderstruck by recently? My Wonderstruck moment recently was during a morning walk. I had to kill about an hour before I could pick up my loaner laptop. I was given the gift of having a quiet moment to walk along and watc

Bobby McFerrin Shows the Beauty in Working Together

A few years ago I took my husband and stepson to see Bobby McFerrin in concert. I had a feeling it would be a fun show even if I didn't know fully what to expect. Their only familiarity with McFerrin was as the "Don't Worry, Be Happy" guy, so they knew even less about what to expect. What transpired was a mesmerizing exhibit of vocals as McFerrin performed a one man show using only his voice, the tapping of his feet, and patting his hand on his chest to create fully developed music. Things got really fun as he started encouraging audience participation. At one point, he slid his chair to the side of the stage and invited anyone who wanted to join him on stage and dance. One at a time, audience members and McFerrin did some improv together- them through dance, he through sound. Later he invited audience members up to sing with him. They would sing any song they wanted and he would embellish it with his own personal style. At other times he got the entire audience invol

Interview: Janice Heck

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. This week's interviewee is Janice Heck. Jan is a retired educator who enjoys blogging about travel, food, writing, grammar, cats, and events in her current home state, New Jersey. What have you been wonderstruck by recently? Over the past few months, I have been impressed by the vast numbers of committed volunteers who contribute their time, energy, and money to church events, community events, and special fundraising events for catastrophes or major illnesses. Whatever their causes, volunteers log many hours of work, and in the process, they touch many lives. It is humbling to be involved with these caring people. What part of your day are you grateful for? Evenings. The day has calmed down and all the distractions have fluttered away. I finally have time to think and write. I am a night owl

Going For It

I applied for a job this morning. A blogging job. How cool is that? It's nothing major - 3 posts per week (okay, that could get major) - but it intrigued me, so I went for it. The chances of me getting this job are probably slim. While I meet the qualifications, I'm sure the competition is great, and I met none of the "preference given to..." bonus points. Wrong locale, new reader of their blog. Strike and strike. I could have stopped reading and let it go, but something about their request resonated with me. It inspired me. It spurred a slew of writing ideas and a new perspective. I feel confident I can bring a good, and somewhat unique, perspective to their readers. It's now in their hands to decide if we're a good match. Maybe they'll agree, maybe they won't. Here's the thing... if they don't choose me, I'll be in exactly the same place I am now. There is nothing to lose by going for it. In fact, I may be able to use those sample posts I

Wonderstruck Fall

The leaves started turning this week where I live. Greens are giving way to golds and reds in a beautiful display of nature's wonder. So, how about a little Fall inspiration as you seek wonderstruckness right where you are today... “Autumn...the year's last, loveliest smile.” ― William Cullen Bryant “Love the trees until their leaves fall off, then encourage them to try again next year.” ― Chad Sugg “That time of year thou mayst in me behold When yellow leaves, or none, or few, do hang Upon those boughs which shake against the cold, Bare ruin'd choirs, where late the sweet birds sang.” ― William Shakespeare, excerpt from Shakespeare's Sonnets How is Fall showing itself where you live? Be sure to join the wonderstruck conversation on my  Facebook page . Click the "like" button if you... um... like it. 

Interview: You - What About Fall Has You Wonderstruck?

There is no wonderstruck interview today. Instead, I'm breaking from routine this week to interview you. Yes, you. Don't worry. This will be painless. There is only one question. What about Fall has you wonderstruck? Is it the crisp air? Colorful leaves? Apple cider? Pumpkin picking? Something else? Share your answer in the comments, then come back and see what others are saying. Maybe you'll find more things to be wonderstruck about. Have you visited my Facebook page yet? If not, you’re missing out on wonderstruck inspiration throughout the week. Come check it out and click the “Like” button.

Frustrated to Wonderstruck... You Can Make the Shift

It's the third time this week he hasn't napped and yet he stayed up as late tonight as he normally would. You put him in his crib and he plays quietly until drifting to sleep. Peace is yours. You can work on that thing- that project you've been meaning to work on. You're making progress. Finally. Then he cries. It's been less than an hour since you put him down. Now he's crying. You wait because maybe he'll go back to sleep. Then you wait just one more minute to be sure. Yes, he needs you. You go to him slightly agitated because you can't seem to get a break today. You remind yourself he doesn't mean to mess up your day. He needs... something. Maybe to know it's okay. So you hold him. Rock him back and forth, back and forth. Sing "lullaby and goodnight, in the sky stars are bright." You think about this time where you could be finishing your project. You could be doing any one of the hundred things on your to do list. There are so many

Smiles Aplenty

Today is World Smile Day! Did you know there was such a thing? I didn't until just last week, but here it is, World Smile Day 2012. It started in 1999 as a day to spread smiles and kind acts to one another. Certainly every day is a good day to do that, but maybe today we can pay special attention to share kindness. The basic idea is this: On this day we call upon people around the globe to be thoughtful of others and use the power of smile and a kind act to make a small difference in the world in which we live. That's direct from . What kind act will you do for someone else today? Helping with a task? Lightening a load? Listening? How about picking up the phone to tell someone you are happy they are in your life. Channel Stevie Wonder... call to say, "I love you." Give smiles and see how many smiles come right back to you. Because it's World Smile Day, it also seems appropriate to let you, my fabulous wonderstruck readers, know how happy you make