Archive | October 2012

A Storm to Remember

The last few days have been an absolutely whirlwind with Hurricane Sandy hitting us. In all the years we have lived here, we have never experienced anything like it or its aftermath.

If you were lucky enough to not be in its path and/or have never experienced a Hurricane, I can’t begin to explain to you how eerie it sounds. Throw in watching the crazy wind outside your window along with rain — it’s scary. Times a million.

At the height of the storm, two trees were knocked down in our backyard. One, at the back of our backyard (our neighbors tree fell into our backyard) following a loud (and terrifying) bang.

Under that fallen tree, is what to used to be our shed (that was collapsed by the tree).

The other: terrifyingly close to our patio door in our family room where we were sitting riding out the storm. Watching this tree sway uncontrollably and knowing it was inevitable was insane. Worse was not knowing what direction it would fall in.

Luckily, it barely missed our house:

Terrifyingly close, but so grateful.

Tuesday morning we took a drive around our area to see the aftermath, and it was devastating:  fallen trees along with downed wires everywhere that were quite hazardous. A couple of houses had trees fall on them (hopefully no one was injured inside!).

We were lucky enough to not lose power until about 8 PM on Monday right at the height of the storm as it was hitting land (others lost it as early as that afternoon). Altogether, we lost power for 40 hours before it was restored in the early afternoon on Wednesday.

In all honestly, the worst part of the power outage was the lack of heating. I am usually always cold on a normal day, so it was especially trying for me (wearing multiple layers and sleeping with just many over me got me through it along with hand warmers).

While this 40 hours of no electricity was no fun and very trying in many ways, it was a good reminder of how much we take for granted on a daily basis. Multiples times I had to remind myself that it is the norm for so many around the world to be without electricity and lack of resources on a regular basis. We have so much to be thankful for, yet we take it for granted. It’s been a humbling experience for sure.

Just in this experience alone: we were so fortunate to not too much rain, and therefore flooding wasn’t an issue. With Hurricane Irene last year (which was weaker than this storm), we had flooding as a major issue in our area (and in our basement). To see the devastation with the flooding in some areas with Hurricane Sandy, it is hard to fathom what would have happened if we had more rain. A combination of more rain and the downed wires would have been a recipe for disaster.

I was also positively surprised that PSE&G was able to restore our power after just 40 hours. While the 40 hours seemed incredibly long, in the grand scheme of things — it was barely anything — especially considering how massive and widespread the storm hit.

I’ve said it over and again in the last few days: Hurricane Sandy was barely a Category One when it hit us. I can’t begin to fathom the aftermath and destruction of anything more, let alone Category Five storms.

Something to smile about:

After all the devastation that hit our area, look at that nest that is still in tact after the storm in our neighbor’s yard.


A friend of mine who I went to school with, posted a picture of her niece in the costume below on Instagram with the following caption: ‘so I asked my niece what she is going to be for Halloween and she comes out wearing this. I asked her what it was and she said “Bando-girl. She is a superhero against bullying.” My heart filled with so much love. We need people like my niece and Bando-girl. #inspirational’

We do indeed.

I wasn’t sure if this character was real or made up. After I talked to my friend, she told me that her niece had not only invented this character, but what it stood for.

I’ve never met this little girl, but she brought a huge smile to my face and melted my heart.

I don’t know whether to be touched that a girl so young has such a huge heart and wants to fight bullying and bullies. Or to be saddened that a girl so young has already realized how much evil there is in the world.

The optimist in me sides with the first one. That this amazing young girl wants to do her part and make the world a better place.

In this day and age, there aren’t even many adults who have her kindred spirit. So when I see something like this: a child standing up for what is right, it makes me wish we lived in a naive and angelic bubble free of evil.

Who am I kidding, right? But don’t the children of this day and age deserve that much and more?

All I know is, we need more people like this girl in this world who stand up for what is right.

Central Jersey Heart Walk Follow Up

In just under a month, I was able to raise $360 for the Central Jersey Heart Walk and I want to take a moment to thank everyone that generously donated towards this great cause.

It’s been such a humbling experience. Everyone knows someone effected by heart disease, and it doesn’t have to be as directly effected as we were as a family.

I’m glad I decided to participate, and I urge you to join in and take part in a similar one in your own community. It doesn’t have to be a heart related charity that you get involved in, there are so many great causes out there! Choose one that is close to your heart (no pun intended). One that you are passionate about. You’ll be glad you did.

Let me tell you, there is nothing more satisfying then giving back to the community. Individually, we may not be able to bring about much change… but collectively, it’s a whole another story.

While the $360 I raised may not seem all that grand to some in the scheme of things (I am proud of it actually), the Central Jersey Heart Walk was able to fundraise over $95,000 collectively. That can and will change lives. More importantly, it will save lives.

The actual walk was today, but with a sudden trip to Canada, I had to unfortunately miss the walk portion of it. Next year, I’ll be there for sure.

Chicken Cheesesteak

Don’t you just love it  when you are just working with a few basic ingredients, and the next thing you know, you’ve made something that turns out delicious?
I had chicken to work with and I needed to use up these rolls that I use to make different kinds of sandwiches a lot.
I cut the chicken into bite size pieces, threw in random spices and turned the pan on. Next thing I know, it smelled like the chicken from Chicken Cheesesteaks.
So I turned the meal into that:
For the chicken, I cut boneless and skinless chicken breast fillets into very tiny, bite size pieces. I marinated it with: salt, black pepper [a lot of it], garlic, red pepper flakes, chili powder, cayenne pepper [a lot of it], and oil. I, then, cooked the chicken in a pan on low to medium heat.
Meanwhile, cut strips of peppers. Add them to your pan with the chicken once it is completely cooked through, turning your heat to extremely low heat, and mix the peppers and chicken together. You could add onions, mushrooms, and whatever else you like on your cheesesteak… these are the ingredients my family likes.
To assemble your chicken cheesesteaks::
On the rolls, spread the chicken and pepper mixture, covered with [mozzarella] cheese and put under the boiler for a minute or two until the cheese is melted (this happens really fast under the broiler, so keep an eye on it!)
P.S. This post is a part of my “What’s for Dinner” series, where I share what I’ve been cooking and my recipes.

Presidential Debates

With today being the start of the presidential debates for this election cycle, their validity and importance has been discussed recently.

I have heard, today in particular, that it’s nothing but a show of who can best present their prepared lines. [Aside: although I have to admit, that the Onion‘s article on it is hilarious.]

But you know what? These prepared lines HAVE to include their vision, their stances, and what sets them apart from the opposing candidate in some way or form.

And that’s what the undecided voters who are tuning in are looking for, aren’t they? The democrats are more likely than not going to vote democrat and likewise for the republicans. It’s the undecided voters that will ultimately decide the election.

It’s not like the rest of the campaign season where the candidates can just bash their opponent, or sideline from the questions asked about the real issues. I’d like to think that the moderator will hold them accountable during these debates.

Because you know what? The American public deserves answers.

Not just the undecided voters. I am know who I am voting for, but that doesn’t mean I know what the next four years will hold or that I don’t have questions.

Oh, one last thing. If this election really is going to be based off of the question “are you better off than you were four years ago?” as these news journalists keep emphasizing from the Romney campaign… then, I don’t even know what to say. I don’t think it takes much more than common sense to realize that four years ago we were dealing with the aftermath of a presidency that left the country in turmoil financially and otherwise. It’s not like Day 1 of the Barack Obama presidency is where all the issues started. They have built up over time.

And you what, I AM better off than I was four years ago.

I am still covered under my dad’s healthcare plan. Four years ago, without Obama’s healthcare plan, that wouldn’t be the case. And if it wasn’t, I can’t even imagine how much in debt I’d be because of the curve balls life has thrown my way this past year.

Now off to watch the first debate, one dealing with domestic issues. As you can imagine, healthcare and employment is on the top of my list of issues I care about.