Wednesday, January 27, 2010

it's the little things


It’s the little things that make up the {warp and woof} of our lives…

the way each juicy section on a halved grapefruit pops out with a squirt on the spoon 

the tiny crunch of a single flake of sugar between my teeth

the ding of an unexpected email from a friend in my work inbox

the summery pop of shrimpy-red on my nails in the middle of a dreary winter day, reminding me that spring is just around the corner

the fact that I got 10 hours of sleep last night and woke up before my alarm clock this morning, feeling fully refreshed and rested and happy

the satisfying look of a to do list when every single item is marked off, giving me the chance to start anew

the way it’s already more than halfway through the week and I feel like it just started

Monday, January 25, 2010

what i did on my winter vacation:


drank 8 shots of espresso
and a pepsi
finished making 60+ birthday cards
watched the today show from start to finish
blogged twice
mailed the cowl to canada
read until my google reader said "0 unread"
painted my nails "Shrimp Scampi"
sat in on a conference call for work + found out where our office is being moved (downtown!)
made a dozen turkey meatballs + homemade sauce + whole wheat rotini
then ate my weight in brussel sprouts with parmesan instead
mentally picked out my outfits for the next three days
started on the new testament (finally)
watched some monday night t.v.
kept on looking for the perfect laptop bag

*it was a wonderful, lazy, relaxing day - just what we (i) needed! to mentally prepare for the busy four-day work week ahead.



we are in the midst of enjoying a three-day weekend for no. good. reason.
and it's fantastic.

no plans
nothing to do 

we've spent the first few hours of the morning drinking coffee by the fire, watching the news, browsing the internet for a cute laptop bag for work and updating my birthday calendar.

we're not sure what we're going to do today - the only item on the agenda is to get to the post office to send out {the cowl}. other than that, the possibilities. are. endless.

we can fill our day with business, or just do nothing. 

we have nowhere to be
no commitments and we're okay with that. 
pretty. happy. actually.

i think i'll paint my nails something dark and wintery
as this little fluffy pooch stares me down and wonders why i'm not at work.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

what i missed


he took my camera for the week, and this little gem was hidden between pictures of offices and faces.
there's something about a blurry, glittering night shot that captures my heart.

Eaten alone: a study of the dinners I ate alone {or didn’t eat alone} this week:


Last weekend i had in my mind that i would be spending a lot of time alone during the week while Curtis was in Cali. I had planned out in my head the things that i would do, the meals i would make, the sleep i would catch up on...

not so, my friends, this was not so.

First, i did not get more than five full hours of sleep any night this past week. Disappointing and exhausting. I found that without a good-looking man next to me, telling me when it's time to go to bed, and  bugging me to turn off my bedside lamp and go to bed, i stayed up later than i have in years. I spent my nights getting into bed and reading, then thinking of something i should do and getting up numerous times before playing on my phone in the dark.

i do not like to sleep alone. that is just a fact that i have now come to grips with.

And all the meals i had planned to cook for myself - well, most just didn't pan out. Let's break it down:

Sunday night after dropping off Curtis at the airport, I was just getting over a migraine, so I went the easy route and had a Lean Cuisine. It was a new Thai-noodley type deal and it wasn't bad. Pathetic, but not bad.

Monday night, in an effort to again not cook for myself, I invited myself to mooch off of my parents. My mom and I ended up making an savory Indian dinner of homemade butter chicken, stir fried veggies and brown rice. It was good, and while i was there, i started my next sweater-knitting-project. but more on that another time.

Tuesday night I didn’t have to cook either. I had bible study that night, and Keith and Lily (our lovely hosts and new friends) had mercy on my single state and invited me over for dinner beforehand. We feasted on creamy, homemade chicken noodle soup, salad and warm bread. It was wonderful and the company was even better.

Wednesday night I did in fact cook for myself. I was originally supposed to have a friend from work over but she had to cancel last-minute because of some unexpected work stuff, so I took it upon myself to make what we were planning on making together. I made a little homemade calzone for myself - stuffed with mozerella, carmelized onions and spicy turkey sausage and ate it on the couch as I watched some mind-numbing tv.

Thursday night I ate the rest of my calzone from the night before and a huge glass of OJ. I went between watching the Thursday night shows, doing laundry, dishes and started making homemade cards on the living room floor. Not really sure what got into me, but i was having a creative spark and wanted to take full advantage of it.

Friday night my days of solo dining were finally over {for the week at least} and my handsome husband came home to me. I picked him up from the airport just in time for dinner. We ended up running home for a bit before treking back out for some cheap mexican. tamales for him and carne asada tacos for me. it was just nice to be able to talk for more than five minutes - boy did i miss this boy.

It’s not exactly the week of dining alone that I had planned, but it was a good opportunity to enjoy the pleasure of dining with friends, savoring some time alone and letting absense make the heart grow fonder. It was a pleasant week for what it was, but i am so glad that i am no longer the lone ranger in this house of two.

drum roll please...

I am excited to announce that the winner of my first blog giveaway is...

Carly from {Citric Sugar}...

Congratulations Carly!

I hope you enjoy this cozy cabled cowl as much as I enjoyed making it. I'm just excited that there was at least some interest in winning it - you never know with these types of things. I was my usual self-conscious self and wasn't sure if i should do it - but I'm glad I did and I'm sure there'll be more giveaways here in the future.

And for Carly, please email me at jpenick999 (at) gmail (dot) com with your address and I will get it in the mail as soon as I hear from you.

Thanks for playing friends, and enjoy this lovely weekend - I know I will - my man is back and we've got a three-day weekend to make up for lost time!

Thursday, January 21, 2010

an announcement...of sorts

I found a new blog this week that I wanted to share. It is called {A Commonplace Life}
and somehow I came across her post where she explains her blog’s name. I found this very interesting, and something within the explanation resonated with my need to document, write, share and preserve.


A Commonplace Life
JANUARY 25, 2009

I do not intend the title I have chosen for this project to imply that I consider my life in anyway mundane (although it certainly has its moments) or uninteresting. (The extent of any interest by others, however, remains to be seen.) Rather I seek to find the beauty and treasure in the ordinary and common. To record the joy in everyday moments.

The tradition of the Commonplace Book (or Commonplacing) dates back to 15th Century Europe. Printed texts were scarce. Scholars artists and scientists recorded memorable passages they had read, into a blank book of pages. The tradition evolved to incorporate medicinal recipes, quotes, letters, proverbs, prayers, weights and measures and more. The resulting commonplace book would have been unique to its creator’s theme and interests.

Often these early scrapbooks were treated by their authors as finished works. They were given elaborate titles and compiled neatly from rough notes and preserved with special care that demonstrated their importance.

True to the origin of the word, a commonplace remark or written passage is neither dull nor trite as the usual sense of ‘commonplace’ would suggest, but rather worth remembering or quoting.

Welcome to my commonplace book. Thank you for visiting.


This post brings me to my latest “announcement”, and part of the reason I think this post has resonated with me so.
I am a keeper of words, a documenter of things that I hold dear, a girl in love with other people’s words.

I have shared some of my favorite quotes with you before, and yet my quote notebooks are full of others, most not yet shared.

So, without further ado…

Welcome to my newest project:

{Worth Repeating}

(because if you have two blogs, why not three?!)

This is my newest “blog”, intended to give me a space to house and grow my collection of favorite words, sentences, paragraphs and passages. A searchable space, and a space to share the words, which I have accumulated since my teenage years, with readers that find inspiration, as I do, in the wisdom of others. It may be a slow growing collection, but it will grow, as collections are apt to doing and I invite you to take advantage of my collection and share quotes of your own, that have inspired you as well.

This is my Commonplace Book of sorts…

*and don't forget to check back on Saturday for the winner of the cabled cowl...

Sunday, January 17, 2010

when the cat's away, the mouse will...knit?

Curtis left this afternoon for his week in sunny southern california.
i was sad to see him go.

i think he was masking his excitement like i tried to mask mine last week when i got to go on my first business trip. i am so proud of him. right before the holidays he was given a much-deserved promotion and this is just the icing on the cake...although i do hope that he doesn't have to travel too often, i'm excited for him, just as he was excited for me.

but i miss him. already.

but when i got home from the airport i got down to business. i had a knitting project to finish. and that's exactly what i did.

cozy cowl

it's cozy and warm and my first cable knit project. it's not perfect, but quirky and fun.
so i'm going to take a risk and do my first blog giveaway.

{not sure how this will go over, or if anyone will even want it, but if not - it's okay,  because in that case i'll just keep it for myself}

just leave a comment, and i will choose one comment-er at random on friday and will then send you this handknit cowl scarf as my gift to you.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

What do you eat when you’re alone?

Last year {wow, that sounds weird to say} I read a book called “Alone in the Kitchen with an Eggplant: Confessions of Cooking for One and Dining Alone” edited by Jenni Ferrari-Adler. I wrote about it {once before}...

It was essays by famous writers and chefs and food critics about what they eat when they’re alone. I found this book so fascinating that I devoured it in a matter of days – thinking constantly about food, cravings and what I choose to eat when I’m alone.

One night while reading the book I found myself eating a heaping bowl of peas for dinner when Curtis was at class for the night. It didn’t seem weird to me at all after reading about the just-as-strange solitary meals of others.

So now, as I prepare to share my house with no one but my dog for a week, I contemplate what I’m going to eat next week while Curtis is away on business. Typically I would hard boil a few eggs, heat up a couple of lean cuisines and I’m good to go, but as i write this, I have a fridge and freezer full of fresh food, so I’m thinking about doing some cooking for myself – something I rarely do the nights that Curtis is away.

a dinner of roasted brussell sprouts and parmesan cheese
puffins cereal with cold skim milk
Sautéed shrimp, lemon and crushed red pepper pasta

The possibilities are endless.

Now the floor is yours – what do you eat when you’re alone? the weirder the better, there's  no judgment here.

{and you have to answer because i believe i read that last week, or this week was/or is national de-lurker week in the blogosphere - so no more anonymity, speak up and let me know you're listening!}

Friday, January 15, 2010

“I don’t want my house to simply be a furniture museum.”

That is the phrase that has stuck with me since I spoke with my friend {Judy} yesterday.

We were talking about using our lives {but our homes more specifically} to bless people. To make a difference, to meet needs and live open, generous and intentional lives. And part of that is what takes place within the walls of our homes.

I think I should start by telling you that Judy, and her husband Chris, {and their three most-lovely kids} are some of the most generous people I have ever met. They give without asking for return. They love without conditions and they have opened their home not only to Chris’ mom, but to pretty much anyone who shows up on their doorstep. {she could tell you some amazing stories, but I digress}

In her {and through her family} I have been shown an amazing example of generosity and what a truly open life looks like. So, as we were talking about this idea that we all have the opportunity {and responsibility really} to open up our homes {and our lives} to one another, to living with intentionality and acting with purpose greater than our own well-being, it was clear to me that I have a lot to learn from the friends that I keep.

I have said it before, but I don’t mind saying it again - each of my friends {and the ones that I don’t even know that well} have a myriad of different gifts to offer - some encouragement, some an amazing sense of thoughtfulness, some the gift of speaking the truth in love, some hospitality…and the list could go on and on.

I am one very lucky girl, a very lucky girl indeed when it comes to the company I keep.

“Friendship is the great chain of human society."
-James Howell

Thursday, January 14, 2010

on Pablo Neruda

Born in Chile, Pablo Neruda is considered one of the greatest and most influential poets of the 20th century.
Neruda always wrote in green ink because it was the color of Esperanza (hope). I love that.

I read the following poem today as part of my daily poetry readings. It is by GARY SOTOfrom the Northwest Review, Volume 47, Number 3 / 2009. It brings me back to my college days, pouring over poetry day and night and being inspired by the words on the page – causing me to want to be a better writer. Pablo Neruda is one I studied in school, and although this isn’t written by him, it encapsulates everything I admire about him.

I especially love the last stanza that starts:

The earth turns, and we turn with it…
I hope you enjoy as much as I do.

Fountain Pen
Neruda's fountain pen was a tree limb,
Large even in his hands, the vein of ink dark as earth.
When he wrote, wind stirred his journal,
Rain slapped gutters,
                              sunlight blazed on his poems,
Fruit dropped from a dozen different trees,
And the sea rolled its knuckles repeatedly
Against the shore.
                              And we could speak of lightning,
Of a crab dragging its claws like wrenches,
Of Lorca's shivering shadow held against a wall.
Over coffee mellowed by milk, we could speak of sugar
On a worker's back, of an onion with its buried tears,
Of a composer's need for the mood
To retrieve him from sleep.

Neruda scratched out poems in the shape of Chile,
His head lit with sweat,
For it took mighty strength to move earth and sea.
The fountain pen was a log,
His fingers the fingers of a man
Who pounded leather for a living,
Who rose before morning to spank dough into bread,
Who carted oranges, who scooped peanuts into sacks,
Who rubbed oils into hairlines
Receding like the sea.

The earth turns, and we turn with it,
Poets gripping chalk, pencils, pens,
Or sticks with which to write love's name in sand—
So what if a wave eats away what we've written?
When Neruda dotted the end of a sentence,
When he stood up at his desk
And capped his gold-tipped nib,
Others quickly dipped their own pens
Into the still dark but eternally wet ink.

another thursday and halfway through


This morning before work I had my weekly pre-dawn coffee date with my friend {Judy}.

It is not unusual for us to speak of a hundred things in the hour{or more} that we try to get together once a week. In an early-morning caffeine-induced state, our conversation in usually all over the place – catching up, small talk and stories from our week, but it usually comes back around to truths we are learning in our  journey {and oftentimes struggle} to read through the entire bible.

We thought it would take us a year, but looking back, I’m glad we didn’t rush it. It has been nearly a year and a half now and we are just finishing up the Old Testament {this week actually, if we both keep our end of the deal…meaning, cough cough... if I finish up the few books I have left and she reads the last page or two.}

But even through the challenge to read through hundreds of pages of history {because that is what it is really} it has been a fascinating journey to learn about our past, our history and fully {or as much as we possibly can} understand the big picture of the bible. We both agree that we should have done this long ago – to study the book that we claim is the basis of our Christian faith – as a whole. It has become more than historical {although it is certainly that as well} manuscript, it has become a study in faith, and trusting in things you have yet to see, and master plans and sovereign grace.

I read the term “thick beauty” today referring to something else much less holy, but in this case, I think it fits. This book we call The Bible is a book jam-packed with “thick beauty”. Deep, often hard to swallow truths that are heavy and "thick", but beautiful nonetheless.

In 2010 I hope to have finished reading the bible from cover to cover – not to simply say I have done it, but to be changed by the words that I have read. But if it takes another two or 12 years to finish, then I’m okay with that too – because it’s not about the pace, but the purpose.  

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

it is the time for home...


tonight i'm feeling uninspired to do much of anything. i made quesadillas with grilled chicken and onions for dinner because i was too unmotivated to make tacos or fajitas. I think it has something to do with my head. I've had a migraine every night for the last few days and it's left me feeling blah and exhausted.

so i leave you with this - a collage of some of our post-holiday antics using my portrait lens. oh, and i'm also very excited because i just bought a canon softmat filter on ebay for soft focus photography at a very great price. i can't wait to get it and share some of my pictures. 

hopefully i'll have more energy tomorrow night to write about something a bit more interesting, but until then, i'm going to curl up with my favorite man, maybe watch some ridiculous people singing on tv and enjoy winter from the comforts of home.

"Winter is the time for comfort, for good food and warmth, for the touch of a friendly hand and for a talk beside the fire: it is the time for home."
-Edith Sitwell

Sunday, January 10, 2010

home again, home again, jiggety jig


this was the view i've had for the past few days...not too shabby, right?!
i couldn't have asked for a better first business was so great that i almost forgot i was working.
delectable seafood, productive meetings with great clients, my first massage, a fun travel companion and even a little bit of sunshine soaked into very pastey pores.

I was gone only two nights and three days, but i found myself missing my man something awful. every mouth-watering meal i ate, vodka tonic i drank, ocean view i enjoyed and amazing bed i slept in, i wished he was there. it was like i was vacationing without him and i wished i could have flown him down and snuck him in my room from the moment we checked in.

but, before i knew it, i was home again and life was back to normal. there were bills to be paid, grocery shopping to do and a day left of the weekend to spend with my better half. 

and to celebrate - homemade steak and black bean enchiladas.

i will not lie, i love sunshine and seafood and waking up to the ocean's waves, but i love home and husband even more. and i must admit, i'm actually looking forward to a low-key week in snowy cleveland together, catching up and enjoying a slow week before he has his chance to enjoy his first business trip in sunny california.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010


I celebrate myself and sing myself. -Walt Whitman

I celebrate myself and sing myself
awake at dawn’s delight
every freckle and burn
a roadmap
pointing up and out and over
these scars on my arms
dry desert elbows
neckline like rivers receding
this is my topography
of bumps and breasts and bruises
this is my sky and my stars
my imperfect pasture
my lakes and caves and caverns
exposing frost and flake
upon the print of the moon on my palm
this is my globe
my atlas
my almanac
through flood and drought
I celebrate myself and sing myself
to sleep

Resolutions, a follow-up to an ambiguous post

I told you I wasn’t going to write about my {resolutions}until I have completed them, but some are ongoing and won’t technically be “completed” until the end of the year, so I thought that it may be nice to share what I’m up to.

Last week when we were on that {date}I wrote about earlier, (the one with the sushi incident and the wonderful bookstore visit), Curtis bought me two books that I was coveting:

{The Daily Writer}

and {The Daily Reader}

I thought they would be great books to start off the New Year. Both are comprised of short daily passages, writing prompts and ideas, designed to inspire. So far they have both been wonderful , however I have not been too impressed by the excerpts chosen from The Daily Reader yet. The Daily Writer, however, has really gotten my creative juices flowing – but I will post more on that later.

I have also started reading {this} every day in an attempt to bring poetry back into my daily life. I have been pleasantly surprised with the their choices so far and it has been a much-needed respite in the midst of some hectic, post-holiday work days. This too has been sparking my creativity.

Something is stirring within me and feeling hopeful that it will continue far past January, when most new sparks start to fizzle and fade.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

:: a single sentence ::


It is necessary to write, if the days are not to slip emptily by.  
 ~Vita Sackville-West

I cordially invite you to visit my newest writing project 

:: a single sentence :: 

Friday, January 1, 2010

happy new year: now it's time to get busy


Earlier this week I read {this post} by Elsie at {A Beautiful Mess}. In it she said that this year she wasn't going to post her list of resolutions on January 1st; instead she would post each one individually, as she completed them. I like that idea and I think I will follow suit.

I spent some time this week creating my list of resolutions and goals and to do's for the year. Unlike Elsie, i typed mine into an email to myself to keep in my inbox until December. I thought about sharing it with you, but some are a little personal and some only I can hold myself accountable for - so instead, i will show you my framed January print from my 2009 {Orange Beautiful calendar}. Right now it's sitting on my windowsill above my sink. It makes me happy and I plan on swapping it out for the next month's print on the first day of each month.

Happy New Year friends!

happy new year


"We spend January 1 walking through our lives, room by room, drawing up a list of work to be done, cracks to be patched. Maybe this year, to balance the list, we ought to walk through the rooms of our lives...not looking for flaws, but for potential."
-Ellen Goodman

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