Saturday, February 27, 2010

love on a saturday morning


i made the mistake when we first started dating, of telling Curtis that i didn't like flowers. at the time i think it was true. they seemed wasteful, generic, expensive. Now, with a home of my own, seeing fresh flowers on the counter or the table seems like a luxury, even if it's just a juice glass full of wild flowers.

Luckily, he's ignored my anti-flower comments from years past. It is not a gift i receive often, but because of it, i think i appreciate them more when they come.

i am also not much of a rose person. but when this tiny rosebush came in the mail for me as an early valentine's day gift i thought to myself, "he gets me. this is the way you give me roses. this man knows me very well."

when they came, the buds were tightly closed and shy. now, over a week later, they have opened and bend towards the sunny window in our kitchen, soaking in the little bit of sunshine we've had lately. new buds have formed and we watch as they too, grow and open.

fresh flowers have a way of making the kitchen feel alive, and fresh. they are the perfect way to welcome spring.

Friday, February 26, 2010

the difference a day can make

yesterday I was merely running on the unhealthy habit of caffeine.
every day is so similar to the one before that my days are jumbled
mingled together like a palmful of necklaces.
all clasps and chains and charms
in a web of metal mess and constant confusion.
did I wash my hair yesterday?
when did my last period start?
how many weeks until spring's subtle entrance?
my glances at the clock are often and
come without warning but carry a sigh
a chain-linked pendant pocket watch
telling me the time of day - but is it yesterday or today?
three o'clock yesterday is the same today.
desk and pen and keyboard typing
the tap of a single letter measures the seconds
words equal minutes
and for hours, the pages churned and
stacked and staggered on my desk, tell of progress,
of time passing
as the necklace around my neck sways and beats against my chest
in a steady rhythm in time with the second hand
i finger a locket engraved with the words
also written in cursive next to my bed
holding all the moments I've locked
and placed in compartments
tidily and chronologically
it's tiny diameter is the width of my soul
but the depth
that travels
a pendulum
But today,
i am snowed in
and i type and take breaks when i need to 
stare out the window
turn on the fire
i think about the difference between yesterday and today -
i have not watched the clock today and it is nearing five. 

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

les petits riens de la vie


Like {Marisa}, I don't speak French – but when she wrote about coming across this sweet French phrase, I had to scribble it into my journal for safekeeping.

les petits riens de la vie

Literally meaning "the small ones nothing of life," it is more commonly translated to mean, "the little nothings of life."

I love that.

Because isn't that what all of life is made of anyways?

Bad breath yawns in the morning followed by tight-lipped kisses under sheets, careful not to share the tangy taste of teeth and tongue.
Blind steps toward the iridescent bathroom light, peeling crust out of eyes while peeing and having the morning's first thoughts (or worries) all simultaneously.
Blasé meetings that give the chance to closed-mouth yawn and silently read a poem and reflect on the morning under afternoon sunlight's vast perspective.
Blurry nights that tend toward sleep in the most necessary sense, but before, the clean mugs scrubbed, ready for another morning, a chipped nail, a sweet email read under the electric blanket.

It is this. These little nothings that get me through long weeks, strung together in the grey of February.
And sometime between milky dawn and drowsy dusk I decide this:

That I am ready for March.
I am ready with the giddy expectation that April will come after that, and then May, and there will be relief from this cold, white coating on freezing black concrete.

I wear jeans and flats, sans socks, in denial that hibernation has not yet come to an end. But March comes on Monday, so there is not too much time to wait.

So, as my feet freeze, I look forward to slippers and blankets warmed by electricity tonight. Of finishing the last forty page of the rather large, and rather great book I have been sojourning through for months now. It too has been one of the little nothings I have come to savor and expect – like snow underfoot on the mornings I choose to keep socks tucked in drawers instead of wrapping translucent feet.

My aim is to make the minutes slow, even in my cold, barren state, because I know that nothing lasts forever and I force myself to find a hundred little nothings here

right now

to believe in

to get me through this season.

les petits riens de la vie

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

winter weary

winter white

i had it all planned out,
a post to catch you up on my life since my last post
but really, 
who really cares?
a lot happened.
stuff that makes blogging less important than actually living
but i've missed it.
when i don't write,
i feel like a part of my life is missing
a part of my being,
my sanity.
so i'm back
and instead of catching you up on all the thing that slipped through the cracks
i'll skip all that and let you know that i've missed finding myself in this space
and i missed you too.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

before and after + a love story

We don't usually celebrate Valentine's Day like other couples do. We usually exchange cards, or go out to dinner, but nothing extravagant. This year, however, my husband went over the top.

I have been complaining about my $20 flat iron for over a year now. Every time I get my hair done at the salon, i come home gushing over how silky straight she gets my hair with her salon flat iron.

Last year, while out shopping i spotted the flat iron that my hairdresser uses at 50% off. I didn't buy it. Even at 50% off it was expensive and I just couldn't justify the splurge.

Fast forward to last week. I spotted it again and remembered how much i wanted it. Curtis was with me and must've took mental note, because guess what he gave me for Valentine's Day?

I give you the before and after...

Curtis insisted that he take before and after photos of my hair. So I blow dried my hair and then let him take the before. He made me frown because that's what he said all before pictures look like.

I then waited the 30 seconds for the Chi to heat up to a whopping 400 degrees then went to town on my mane. Photos two and three are the afters. There is no comparison to my old flat iron. I think I'm in love.

This is a Valentine's Day love story if i've ever known one!

Saturday, February 13, 2010

thursday + a mystery

...Christ in us the hope of glory.
-Colossians 1:27

After getting my car stuck in  my driveway at 6:50 a.m.,
after shoveling myself out because Curtis was in the shower,
after ordering coffee and realizing my debit card was nowhere to be found,
after cancelling my card and ordering a new one,
after all of this {we} settled into our favorite spot on Lee and shared a bagel and sipped coffee while trying to wrap our heads around the person of Jesus.

This is not an easy task, especially not in an hour. So we discussed and looked up answers to some of our questions on the internet and circled back to this truth.

Christ in us the hope of glory.

It goes past knowing the words, or reciting the right things. 
Understanding the depth of these words go far beyond our understanding.

But do you believe it? We ask ourselves in the hidden moments between shoveling snow from behind spinning tires and the frantic panic that comes with losing something important.

Christ in us the hope of glory.

If we really believed this weighty phrase it would change the look of the church as it stands today.
It would change the way skeptics view Christians. It would change the way Christians view Christians.
And it would change the way I view myself, that’s for sure.

I don’t have the answers. I barely understand it.
But I believe it.

In all of its mystery.
In the midst of all of my questions and questioning.
I do believe it.

“-the mystery that has been kept hidden for ages and generations,
but is now disclosed to the saints.
To them God has chosen to make known among the Gentiles
the glorious riches of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory.
-Colossians 1:26-27

Monday, February 8, 2010

i am an introvert too

Today I read {this post}, entitled Introvert…That’d Be Me! by Candace over at {Sparkle Power}

Here is a snippet:


Yes. I'm an introvert. This isn't news to me. I've been aware of this for quite some time. Recently I've become very tuned into the characteristics of introverts & the way that I behave when I don't get what I need as an introverted person.

Introverts are not shy. They simply process everything internally. Studies have shown that their brains actually operate differently than extroverts. Extroverts think things out by talking. Introverts gain energy from being alone. Extroverts gain energy from being with people. I enjoy social get togethers, but I can only take so much. After a certain amount of time, I'm done. It drains me & in order to get my energy back, I need some time alone. When we've scheduled too much time with friends & family and I haven't allowed for down time, I get super grouchy. When I haven't had time to recharge, I don't really want to be touched & I don't want my kids climbing all over me. Sometimes I feel like a mean, horrible person, but I can't help it. I need just a little bit of time to myself & I feel much more sane, much more energized & I'm ready to love & care for my family again.

I'm learning that being aware & attending to this aspect of my personality is really important.

Likewise, I'm learning to understand extroverts better as well. They're not repeating themselves a million times just to annoy me. They're actually thinking out loud.


Like Candace, I’ve known this about myself for a long time. However, something my mom said to me a week or so ago has gotten me thinking about it again.

Last weekend, while prepping ingredients for {pad thai night}, my mom brought up my blog(s).

I don’t remember exactly what she said, but something to the extent of:

Me and dad have been reading your blogs and wondering to ourselves, who is this writing these posts? Is this our daughter? It just doesn’t sound like you. What’s going on? Are you okay? Why do you seem so happy and thankful lately? Talk to me. I’m just curious, Jess. What’s going on?
When she said it, I took it as a slap in the face, to be honest. I blew her off.

For one, I don’t really like talking about my blog to people in person. I get shy, embarrassed. It feels like an invasion of privacy, which, of course it is not. But secondly, maybe those that aren’t like me don’t understand that I can’t {or choose not to} express myself verbally the way that I process internally and through my writing.

I am an introvert. There, I said it.

Everything that Candace has explained herself as being – I am too {although I am the first to admit, I am a bit shy at times too}.

I am not a verbal processor, but that doesn’t mean that I don’t have stuff on my mind. That doesn’t mean that I have nothing to say or that life isn’t affecting me because I don’t always talk about it.

However, it does mean that I don’t express everything that I’m thinking about outloud, or that I sometimes have a hard time getting my point across, or holding up my end of a conversation, or explaining myself fully.

I am a thinker. a writer. But I am not a talker. I use my phone to text and email and occasionally leave a voicemail. I am not a phone-chatter, and those that know me well know not to expect a call from me very often. I am an email-er, a letter-writer, a blogger, journal-er.

And so, if sometimes you learn something new about me by the words that I write, instead of the words that I say, that’s okay.

Actually, it’s better than okay, that’s how I like it.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

a little something to take my mind off of the bad day i've had

I haven't had the best day today. It started with a migraine that literally knocked the wind out of me. The wind and other stuff - but i won't go there. After staying in bed with a trash can until nearly 2pm, i got up and eventually got down to business. But before i did, i found {this}

Someone was reading my mind, or reading my {other blog}.

Luckily it was sold out because I might have had to buy it and I really shouldn’t be buying another journal anyways. I have a stash that I still haven’t used and this one is just too ridiculously cute to pass up.
So, it’s a good thing it’s sold out is all I’m saying.

Monday, February 1, 2010

Homemade Pad Thai: The Backstory + Some Link Love

In January, my friend Amie started a food blog called {My Retro Kitchen}.

It is a refreshing mix of stories + interviews + restaurant reviews + recipes.
From the day she sent me the link I was hooked…however, when she posted a recipe for Pad Thai that she had tried,
I knew I would be forever indebted.

You see, Pad Thai is my all time favorite food. I was going to say that it’s on my top three or five favorite foods list, but I was just sitting here trying to think of a dish I crave more and I can’t. There is no food I crave more often than Pad Thai, so you can understand my excitement when I read that she had made it and it rivaled her favorite Thai restaurant’s version.

So, I spent part of my Saturday hunting down the ingredients that included tamarind paste.
After visits to three different mainstream grocery stores, I called my mom and asked her where the closest Asian market was.
She pointed me in the right direction and I ended up at what I came to learn was a Korean grocer. As I pulled in I prayed, Lord, please have someone in there speak English. And sure enough, as I wandered down aisle #1, an adorable little old man came up to me and asked, in a thick accent, “Can I help you find something?”  I smiled and he walked me around the store, finding the obscure (to me) things I needed and giving me advice about noodle width and other curries and ingredients for other dishes.

I walked out with a “wet tamarind brick” (instead of paste), Pad Thai sauce (instead of paste), fish sauce and enough noodles to make Pad Thai for a small army.

Then the ingredients sat on the counter haunting me. I even dreamt of making it on Saturday night. Sunday morning came and I had Pad Thai on the mind. All day. I prepped many of the ingredients long before I needed them – out of sheer excitement. I cut the tofu in neat little triangles like our favorite Thai restaurant, Lemongrass, does. I chopped two chicken breasts, peeled and deveined some shrimp, chopped some scallions. And. then. I. waited.  

We had invited my parents over for the feast because they love Pad Thai as much as I do. Maybe more. Then, at church in the morning, we invited some other friends over. A couple that were some of our first friends at this new church. And as luck (or fate…or destiny) would have it – they were just the Asian friends I needed to help me with my tamarind-goo-straining- wok cooking-pad-thai-making endeavor. See, although she had never made Pad Thai, she knew all about tamarind paste vs. the wet brick I had, and fish sauce and rice noodles.

I was already in the process of pre-cooking the egg, tofu, chicken and shrimp when they knocked on the door. My mom was already over, chopping peanuts and voicing her concerns as I began to mix the unfamiliar ingredients for the sauce. They entered, we greeted and I immediately asked Sophia for assistance – which she graciously offered.

We were a good team, her with mad wok skills and me with fearless kitchen confidence, I ended up multiplying the recipe by 6 (not sure what I was thinking!) and so we made it in batches based on how many noodles I had decided to use. After mega-batch #2, we decided to eat and that I would make batch #3 after dinner so as not to let batch #1 get cold. We brought the massive bowl of noodles to the table, along with an extra dish of crushed peanuts and some lime slices and we went to town. And boy oh boy, did we eat. I think at last count, the boys were on helpings four and five.

After plates were licked clean, we critiqued the recipe for next time (because you know there’s going to be a next time!) and we all concluded it was wonderful but could have used a little more oil and more sauce over all. Then Sophia had to go to work (a nightshift at the hospital) and my dad had to leave, so my mom and I left Curtis and Mike to talk over girly wine as we whipped up batch #3 of Pad Thai, this time with critiques in mind. I made a little extra sauce and we all decided that batch #3 was even better than the first two. A little sweeter, a little saltier and hot off the wok is best.

Although I saw the last steaming bowlful sitting there, my body was saying wrap it up and save it for tomorrow. So that’s what we did. And after doing the dishes, we all hit the couch in a noodle-induced-food-comatose-state and watched some of the Grammy’s.

For the recipe, read Amie’s post {Homemade Pad Thai I Think I Am in Loveover at her blog {My Retro Kitchenand if you like Pad Thai I STRONGLY suggest you try this recipe.

*My edits to the recipe: In leui of Pad Thai paste, the man at the market I went to suggested a bottle of traditional Pad Thai sauce instead. And the “wet brick of tamarind” that I bought was in leui of the tamarind paste that the recipe calls for. The difference being that this “brick” still had some skins and pits pressed in it that just had to be strained out after constituting in the sauce.

Oh, and we ended up using the Sriracha on the side, because you’ve got to like spicy to like Sriracha (which I do, but some don’t) adding it in gives it a Country-Style Pad Thai affect that is quite delightful, just too hot for some.

So, thank you Amie. You don’t even know all the ways that this recipe has changed everything! I’m already looking forward to leftovers tonight!...and tomorrow night…and the next night (because we still have that much of it!)

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