Wednesday, December 10, 2008


one of my 'favorite' sites to visit online is i have a tab opened their right now as a matter of fact. often times i search mouth-watering vegetarian recipes, other times i read up on poses i've learned in the yoga classes i take regularly throughout the week. this evening, however, my soul was in need of a good ol' potluck of enlightenment and illumination. i clicked on the wisdom tab and read the headlining article titled 'selfless gratitude.' it was the very thing my soul had a hankering for. below is a segment that left a sweet taste on the palate of my heart (note: this is just a segment. the entire article is 6 pages long. consider this your appeteaser)...

"Practicing mindfulness of gratitude consistently leads to a direct experience of being connected to life and the realization that there is a larger context in which your personal story is unfolding. Being relieved of the endless wants and worries of your life's drama, even temporarily, is liberating. Cultivating thankfulness for being part of life blossoms into a feeling of being blessed, not in the sense of winning the lottery, but in a more refined appreciation for the interdependent nature of life. It also elicits feelings of generosity, which create further joy. Gratitude can soften a heart that has become too guarded, and it builds the capacity for forgiveness, which creates the clarity of mind that is ideal for spiritual development.

Let me be clear: The practice of gratitude is not in any way a denial of life's difficulties. We live in troubling times, and no doubt you've experienced many challenges, uncertainties, and disappointments in your own life. Nor does the practice of gratitude deny the Buddha's teaching on death: Death is certain; your death is certain; the time of death is unknown; the time of your death is unknown. Rather, gratitude practice is useful because it turns the mind in such a way that it enables you to live into life or, more accurately, to die into life. Having access to the joy and wonderment of life is the antidote to feelings of scarcity and loss. It allows you to meet life's difficulties with an open heart. The understanding you gain from practicing gratitude frees you from being lost or identified with either the negative or the positive aspects of life, letting you simply meet life in each moment as it rises.

In the Bible the disciple Paul instructs, "In everything give thanks." What he means is that from your limited perspective it is not possible to know the outcome of any event. What can seem unfortunate at first may turn out to be an unforeseen blessing."

looking at life a little differently...and a lot more gratefully.

sleep well.


Dear Friend,

I've been sleepy this week. I woke up this morning at 933. When I looked at my clock I blinked twice and looked again in disbelief. Sure enough, those bold, black numbers weren't deceiving me. I'm not even sure what time I crashed last night...definitely before midnight. I can't remember the last time I needed that many hours of sleep. And you know me, I'm typically the 'in bed by 11, up by 6' kinda gal. By 930 I've usually done 2 loads of laundry, swept the floors, taken a shower, and milked 3 cows. This 930 business has GOT to stop. When I was working at Proud Mary's just over a year ago, I was up at 4, at work setting up patio tables, hoisting up umbrellas, and brewing coffee for fisherman by 430. I loved those early foggy mornings. Sleep is so weird anyway. It's amazing that we even need it. Every day we escape reality for so many hours...only to wake up and do it all over again the next day. Night after night, we invest so many hours into a block of time we never remember. It's terribly strange to me.

I made a cup of green tea (with honey) and got to work on some emails. I love the whole Gmail 'star' system. Every time an email comes in that I can't reply to right away, I 'star' it and then go back to my 'starred' file later to catch up on my correspondence. I'm realizing more and more as I write this what a freak I am about organization. Oh me, oh my.

Today was a 'to-do list' type of day. And I'm happy to say that my to-do list is now accompanied by many horizontal lines. I got a lot done. All of the Christmas and December birthday cards are on their way, courtesy of La Palma's correos. My airline ticket confirmations to go 'home' to Sweden next Monday have been printed, thanks to my Swede. The trash has been taken out and the plastic and wine bottles have been so greenly placed in the recycle bin. Mother Nature is smiling upon me right now, I feel it.

The rest of the afternoon's been so-so. It's a cloudy 64 degrees here on the little island and Frankie Laine is serenading me from the ipod speakers as I imagine what life was like in the late 1940's. Not an extraordinary day, but definitely one to be thankful for nonetheless.

And that I am.

Until mañana,

Saturday, December 6, 2008

something i wrote about a year ago, but updated today.

I’d much rather send all of you postcards and in another life I would pursue the fascination I have with becoming an expert journalist or Pilates instructor. I’d still be traveling the world, taking pictures of all things beautiful (polaroids too), but develop most in black and white and sepia tones. For now I simply live a life inspired by all that is chaotic and peaceful…beautiful and unique. I just said goodbye to 24 and hello to 25, July 13th to be exact. I’ve been on ‘tour’ for almost 24 months, with a few breaks in between. My fabulous and wonderfully talented fiancé is what we refer to as a ‘pro baller’…and I am his entourage. I’ve been to more countries and cities and places that this past year than I’ve been in all of my life combined…I am sure…or maybe it just feels that way. Either way, it’s only just the beginning. I have no idea where the next day will take us…and I love it (most of the time). I grew up in a small beach town called San Clemente, just about halfway between San Diego and Los Angeles. Personally, I think it’s one of Orange County’s best kept secrets. I moved out of the apartment I used to rent in SC and am making a home (for now) in the Canary Islands of Spain (another corner of heaven this side of the Atlantic). We come to points in life where decisions have to be made…big ones and small ones. That was a big, yet easy, one for me. I have never taken for granted where I grew up and have always known it to be one of the best places in the world. The ocean always looks like glass and the air in the middle of December in the early mornings is cool and crisp. I woke early in the morning and would often take a walk on the beach with my camera. I loved when the only footprints in the sand were mine. The temperature is what my body was made for. It is home. My love for travel began when I was about 5. Camping trips with my family to Lake Tahoe won me in. When I was 12, I took my first summer vacation alone to visit my aunt in Florida. Once I knew I could go anywhere by myself, there was no stopping me. I could only stay in a bubble for so long before I got pissed off because I know there’s so much more of this world to see. So I went. I went lots of places and saw lots of things. Met lots of people, and packed and unpacked lots of bags. Fast forward to days of ‘getting to know Fred’, which was actually, what I believe to be, a conspiracy between he and our mutual friend Lindsey. Serendipitous or not, I can say without hesitation that I met my very best friend in Fred. My parents and grandparents, once leery of me dating anyone outside of the area code, found themselves sort of believing in this fairy tale love. With their blessing, off I went to Spain. I bought a polka dot apron to help me blend in. Now on my living room floor here in La Palma, listening to John Vanderslice’s Golden Gate (on repeat). For a brief moment, I’m gonna have to replenish my fluids with a cup of Trader Joe’s Mint Melange Tea. Yep, I said mélange. I spent the last year learning Swedish in Uppsala, but while I’m at it, it doesn’t hurt to enhance what I have yet to know in English. Vocabulary lesson for the day: Melange: n. 1. A collection of various things. John Vanderslice is my new old musical love. I was first introduced to his music via my older, and so musically in tune, brother a few years back. Apparently I was too naïve to listen, or remember for that matter. I think he will forgive me for not remembering, especially when he knows how much I appreciate him now. As it is with most circumstances in life, timing is everything…and places are moments we just happen to be experiencing…memories are moments we once experienced. It’s a lot like love. Sometimes it’s love at first site and other times, it hits you when you least expect it (oddly enough, both of those happened when I met Fred). And now I am here, on ‘our’ living room floor…in Spain. I was last home in May. Fred was with me for a few weeks before I flew to join him in Sweden. Though it’s never good to be smitten at the airport, leaving the apple of your eye, because it’s one of the suckiest feelings in the world, it’s one of the most inspiring at the same time. Life is all about a time and place...we aren’t here to figure it out, just here to be open to it. These days I am all about learning, writing, asking myself who I am. Though I understand the chance of me running into the defining answers of it all is futile, I do like to ask myself the questions: What is the purpose for all this around me? How does it shape me? Am I being bent or broken? What story does it tell about me? So anyways, this is me…Jessie Jansen. Loving all things Canon, Williams & Sonoma, and Anthropologie. Equally anticipating my new straw purse and hopelessly devoted to my Rainbow flip flops. Loving my leaf-like pearl and glass bead necklace and cozy Gap t-Shirts. Loving over-sized beach towels. Addicted to the camping and sand that gets stuck on and between my toes. Love my Swede. Loving my veggies. Strawberries by the handful. Red and yellow bell peppers with hummus. Big-white-sweet-Hawaiian onions on the grill. Avocados, as Grandpa’s guacamole or by the half with spinach salad. Shrimp, cold with cocktail sauce. Salmon with lemon sauce and green beans. Artichokes hearts. Any glass of good (or bad) wine. It doesn’t matter, as long as it’s shared with good company. BJ’s Brewhouse Blonde beer. I love to sleep with the windows open or a fan blowing. I like to drive around and let my mind wander. I like to wake up really early and take a cup of chai tea to the beach…or do something ‘just for fun’ like bake cookies at 630am. The best is when it’s the middle of winter in California, when the air is cold and you can roll down the windows of your little white beetle and put the heater on your feet. The best feeling in the world is when you come out from a good swim in the ocean and lay under the warm sun. My favorite smells are fresh laundry, clean air, and that ‘after the rain’ smell. And that scent your beloved one leaves on your pillow. I like taking part in random acts of kindness and conducting positive energy to those around me. I want to be a better citizen and person. I take pride in striving towards being one of the best daughters, granddaughters, sisters, aunts, friends (and lover) any of my family or friends will ever have. Taking care of the people I love comes first, then myself, then photography, culinary adventures and the like. I’ve learned that a strong foundation is necessary in the attempt to live out your dreams. Everything in moderation…except love. Honesty is always the best policy…and patience is key. I love the life I live and have huge amounts of appreciation for all that I’ve been given. I am simply happy to be here. That is me.

Friday, December 5, 2008

my last 'old journal' post.

so the last 8 posts, plus this one, are all from a journal i kept on my ibook starting 4 years ago. i wrote in it for about a year or so. when i came across it this morning, i was so enamored by all that i was thinking and feeling and experiencing 4 years all felt so close. and i was reminded so much of the me i was, the me i am, where i've come from, and where i am today...

Wednesday, September 7, 2005

Dear Friend,

I love getting up early. I guess you could say that I’m a morning person. But I dunno if that's a fair statement because I’m just as much an afternoon and evening and night person...I guess I’m an all day person. But early mornings in the sunny summer or foggy fall (my use of alliteration for the week) are glorious. I took a few pictures of the light coming through my blinds when I woke up. It's been a perfectly good Wednesday morning. My ipod, chai tea, and I just took a stroll down to t-street. Got some pretty good shots...the water was so blue. I stood and stared at the ocean for what must have been about 10 or 15 minutes...just mesmerized. I was born the same city...22 years ago and still can't grasp it all. It’s a beautiful place, that's about all I can say.

So...about the whole job thing. Looks like I’m gonna take a different job after all. To bring you up to speed, I had recently taken a position as a photographer at a children's portrait studio. 2 days later I got an offer to work at a friend's restaurant. The photo gig had me so excited, but only because photography is what I wanna IS what I do. But after much thought and consideration, I realized that PORTRAIT photography isn't really my deal. My passion is more for journalistic, travel, or freelance photography. The studio's in Tustin too...which isn't exactly a hop, skip, and a jump away...and with gas prices climbing the way they are, I got a hold of my sensible side and decided that maybe this just wasn't my golden ticket. Charlie knows what's up.

SO...I go to the restaurant today to see about a schedule...most likely full-time...may pick up some photo assisting on the side. I couldn't be more excited. In fact, I’m so excited, I’m egg-sided. How’s that for 9am humor? As mentioned earlier, I enjoy mornings (and afternoons and evenings, etc.)...especially outdoors. I’ll be working at the harbor in Dana Point...waitressing and doing whatever else...mostly outside on the patio. The water is less than 10 feet from me and the boats cruise by all day. I’m still not sure it's legal to call something this glorious a job...but I guess that's what we'll call it for now. Love love love the sound of it already.

Your Friend,

If you never stop when you wave goodbye
You just might find if you give it time
You will wave hello again
You just might wave hello again...

this sums it up. and yet another 4 years...

Monday, September 5, 2005

Dear Friend,

So I think tonight is a good journaling night. But the next few moments will reveal all...I might just slip away into a dream...that sounds much easier. If there were a way to magically pour all that is on my heart and in my head onto this screen…I would. But I realize that probably won’t happen, so I’ve cushioned my finger tips and planted myself in a cozy chair so my hands and ass won’t be numb when I finish all that I hope to accomplish. I'm sitting here in an American Eagle "wife beater" and baby blue cotton underwear (I buy way too many tanks and's a horrible habit) sipping none other than Organic Rooibos Orange Spice tea...Trader Joe's finest. The window's cracked a little and the combination of the sound of my ceiling fan and the trucks passing on the freeway is somewhat soothing. I feel just right.

I was thinking about the way we meet people...and how interesting it is. I really do think that every moment we experience in life and every person we meet happens for a reason...whether big or small. It's as if our lives were a painting...and each experience and every person contributes a color or stoke of a brush. Some add more color...some create bigger strokes...but each plays a part in the masterpiece we are on our way to becoming. I’m trying not to contribute this idealistic way of thinking to the fact that I’ve watched Serendipity more times than there are needles in Martha Stewart’s pincushion. This kind of stuff constantly runs through my mind. And consequently, I'm aware that the future has many more sleepless nights in store for me...starting again with tonight...

I wrote the following quote in a journal I kept my senior year in high school...funny how words that seem so applicable at one point of your life can be just as meaningful 4 years later...

"Be patient toward all that is unsolved in your heart and try to love the questions themselves, like locked rooms and like books that are now written in a very foreign tongue. Do not now seek the answers, which cannot be given you because you would not be able to live them. And the point is, to live everything. Live the questions now. Perhaps you will then gradually, without noticing it, live along some distant day into the answer."
-Rainer Maria Rilke

Love Love Love,

still posting journals from 4 years ago because it's fun and they remind me of home.

Monday, October 4, 2004

Dear Friend,

Today was the first day I’ve been sick in over two years. Where the hell do you find an immune system like that? It’s been said that much is 20/20 in hindsight. I’m finding that to be true. Maybe being raised in the ghetto years ago gave me the immune system of an army today. Today’s journal is dedicated to my unsanitary youth. I owe my healthy present and future to you.

I think I was awake for approximately 3 hours today. And in those 3 hours I mustered up the energy to file my bill receipts for the past five months, make eight cards, frame and hang four pictures, and wipe out a load of laundry...all while sipping a cup of hot chamomile and orange blossom tea. I amaze myself.

Lying in bed for the rest of the day was a treat. Though the restless part of me wanted to escape out my bedside window and enjoy the lovely weather on the other side of the glass and blinds. I resisted and slipped back into a dream, which I ought to do once again.

Good Night,

it's definitely been a while since i've been that hulk hogan of an immune system!


Sunday, October 3, 2004

Dear Friend,

October is definitely not a summer month. It’s not quite winter either. It’s perfectly fall. Right now I can barely see the keys on my 14” ibook. I’m sitting here in my living room watching 50 first Dates by candlelight...with my roommate Megan. Just minutes ago she made a comment, “This is so romantic bebs.” I followed that up with, “Yeah, if only we were lovers...” It really would be nice. Not if she and I were lovers, but if the times that we spent ‘romantic’ nights like this alone were spent with someone who deserved them. Not that my roommate doesn’t deserve them...maybe deserve was the wrong word. I can’t concentrate and watch the movie at the same time. This is going nowhere. We’ll talk tomorrow.

Sleep Well,

things like glass desks.

a fine photo of 'nurse recruiter me' 4 years ago (headset and glass desk close by) and my brother from another mother/former boss, rob.
Friday, May 14, 2004

Dear Friend,

So it's finally Friday. I'm sitting here at 8:26am in my office at National Medical Registry in San Clemente, CA. I come to work every day and face my 17-inch Dell computer that rests heavily on this glass desk that will soon be replaced by a wooden one from Office Furniture Unlimited. Apparently, it doesn't meet the health standards of the corporate administrative center we’ve recently become. Who knew? All I know is that I will miss the support of this glass surface I have come to love and appreciate, more than I thought possible. And I realized a few seconds ago as I wrote those last words that one can come to appreciate many things in this life…more than people, relationships, money. We can appreciate glass desks.

Be Real,


Tuesday, May 3, 2004

Dear Friend,

If there were a song for this moment (other than the Jamaican one playing in the background of this Starbucks in San Juan Capistrano), the song would be Mr. Chatterbox by Bob Marley...except it would be Ms. Chatterbox. Sitting across from me about 30 feet is a girl about my age and her father. They are dressed nicely, as if they had this date night planned since last Tuesday. I couldn’t help but over hear them placing their orders a few minutes ago. The daughter was treating her father. I knew this warmed the heart of the lady behind the counter, and more than that it probably reassured her that there are indeed still wholesome young women in this world. And having heard her comment about reminding her two young boys that this upcoming Sunday is Mother’s Day, I figured she was somewhat concerned of the prospects for daughter in-laws. So, the two have been sitting in the corner across from me for about 15 minutes now. I think the father has said a total of 7 or 8 words, at separate times. He managed to squeeze in an “Oh?” “Wow, really?” “Yeah, you should go for that...” Maybe the fact that she bought his coffee entitled her to carry the entire conversation. I don’t know. The idea was sweet about 15 minutes ago. Father and daughter walk into Starbucks at around 8:30 on a warm Tuesday evening in May, daughter treats dad to trendy beverage he has no idea how to order (“Uh...I’ll have a medium coffee with one cream and two sugars...?”), daughter initiates and maintains entire conversation, and father sits quietly waiting for brief pauses in her speech where he can sneak in a word or two...a way to feel a part of this conversation she’s having with herself. Hey, at least he can now tell his buddies at the office that he’s experienced a Starbucks Grande Caramel Macchiato, while they sip their medium coffee with one cream and two sugars and listen in awe. At what price they ask? Absolute silence.

I went for the more traditional Hot Chocolate this evening. Not a big coffee drinker myself, not a coffee drinker at all actually. I go for coffee alternatives…teas, vanilla steamers and hot chocolates. The latter two are real delicacies. The tea is the jeans and t-shirt of the three.

Stay Cool,

at this moment: i am missing my local starbucks at home :(


if i'm boring anyone by posting journal entires from 4 years ago, speak up! if not, i'll keep 'em coming. it's a self-induced therapy session...and it feels good, especially while listening to frank sinatra's christmas album...

Wednesday, April 28, 2004

Dear Friend,

I finished The Perks tonight. It was a glorious ending. As I closed the book and set it on my passenger seat, I placed the receipt from Borders back inside the front cover. I had been using it as a bookmark and decided to keep it so I could remember the day I bought the book. These are the strange things I do sometimes. This book meant that much to me. As I turned my key in the ignition I realized that I just read one of the best books I have ever read in my entire life. I put the car in reverse, backed out of my parking space (I was legally parked by the way), and drove away from the harbor. I slowly turned up the volume on my CD player and the Howie Day song, She Says, flowed perfectly with the rhythm of the turn I was making. It’s funny how that happens. Or the last words of the song are being sung right as I’m coming to a stop. It’s times like those that make me wonder if someone is filming my life like Jim Carrey in The Truman Show. Maybe everything happens in the time it was designed to. Maybe it’s all in the script, every word that’s spoken, glance that’s given, song that plays in the background. And what if we think we have control over the decisions we make, but really they’ve already been made for us? And then I realize that I think about things like this more than what is considered healthy.

As I drove away from the harbor tonight, I decided that I am much like Charlie. I understood him and I felt that if he were here with me, he’d understand me too. I wonder if there’s anyone else in this world that would read this book and feel the same way. If there was, I’m sure we’d be great friends…but maybe not because we’d be too alike. Maybe that’s why we haven’t met. Because we’re better off not knowing each other...we barely know ourselves.

I’ll tell you more tomorrow. I have to find another book to read. I’ll be awfully bored tomorrow if I don’t, but I don’t know what’s worse, that or knowing that the book I do read will never be nearly as good as the one I just finished. Probably the latter. I’ll find a book to read anyway.

Much Love,

Thursday, December 4, 2008


i'm still reading through my old journal and it's brought back so many memories of home. it's also reassuring to know that, though i have grown and changed in ways to be expected, i am indeed the woman i was at heart years ago...

Tuesday, April 27, 2004

Dear Friend,

One quarter of the book to go. I’m excited for what the remaining pages contain, but sad because soon my communion with Charlie will be over. Well, I guess not. This is a book that’s influence on my life will not stop when I turn the last page. When I think of it like that I am much happier. It’s been difficult for me to take a lunch break at an appropriate time these past few weeks. I have a fax to send, an e-mail to respond to, the phone rings, it’s an important call (they’re all “important” by the way), and before I know it people are shutting down their computers for the night.

Today was different. I made a point to taking my lunch right at 1 o’clock. I had some reading to do. I sat at the harbor again for about a half an hour. I parked in a space that really wasn’t a parking spot. It was the space between the handicapped spot and the regular spots. It was shady. I knew I would only be there for a short period of time. I parked to the left of an elderly couple in a forest green Saturn station wagon. They were each reading the paper. My passenger window was cracked and I heard the old woman say to her husband, “That’s not a parking spot.” I sort of smiled at her but I don’t think she saw. And it wasn’t a smart ass ‘I’m parking here because I get a thrill out of breaking the law’ sort of smile. It was an attempt to reassure her that I was not the offspring of a careless mother and father who neglected to raise a lady. She was too busy giving my car a dirty look. I felt a few things. First, I thought, “If she only knew that I was far from the being the defiant teenager she assumed me to be...and I was in fact, quite a lady.” And second, I thought, “What a bummer that something as insignificant as me parking in this spot has given this poor lady something to complain about.” I feel bad for people like this.

Still Smiling,
Jessie (I like my name)

i still like my name :)

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

a closer look.

so i've been having a blast looking through and organizing the gazillion photos i have on my external hard drive. in the midst of all the photos, i found a journal i used to keep in a Word document on my computer. it was fun to rediscover 'me' by taking a closer look into my mind 4 years ago...

Monday, April 26, 2004

Dear Friend,

This is my first letter to you. I am reading a book titled The Perks of Being a Wallflower and was inspired to begin a record of letters. I wish everyone could read this book so they could experience what I’ve experienced thus far, but I guess I can’t guarantee that it will mean as much to everyone else as it has to me. In that case, maybe it’s best that the only people who stumble across this incredible book are those who react to it in a way that I have. I couldn’t wait to get home and begin my first letter to you. This book did that much to me.

I see a lot of myself in Charlie. Charlie is the author of the letters in the book. He’s the wallflower, poetically described as one who sees everything, says very little, and understands it all, in so many words. I would quote the book, but it’s sitting in the passenger seat of my car. I plan on spending my lunch break tomorrow reading more. I read almost half of the book tonight. It made me think and feel several things. I sat in my car, parked at the harbor, reminiscing much of my childhood and dreaming much of my future. Before I explain more about that, let me first describe this evening.

I spent the past few hours reading at the Dana Point Harbor. I guess it’s the perfect place to be while reading a book like this, a place of pure nostalgia. Our family, mostly credit my mother’s persuasion, visited here often for picnics, birthdays, ice cream, long walks, and everything you don’t quite treasure until you reach a moment in life when those picnics, birthdays, ice creams and long walks mean far more than you can imagine anything else in life ever will. This place has provided much of what I savor about my youth and has served as a place of escape throughout the years; even in those I wasn’t aware I needed an escape.

It is here you will find couples, young and old, walking, swiftly or slowly, wrapped up in conversation or silently delighting in one another’s company. It is here you will find two 47 year old women, best friends, sitting at the wooden tables painted in a dark brown that almost looks gray, discussing topics as light as the latest spinach quiche recipe in Family Circle or as heavy as the infidelity in either of their marriages. It is here that you will find a family of five sprawled out on a giant sheet of grass, unloading the contents of their Craftsman cooler, preparing to partake in a meal that reminds me much of what my family did roughly 13 years ago on our red and blue checkered blanket, at this very same place. It is here that I sat in my white Volkswagen Beetle tonight and read the first half of a book that may have just awakened a part of my soul that I never knew was sleeping.

I was completely focused on the words I was reading, while thoroughly captivated by all that surrounded me. Things like the smell of the salty, fishy water, the sound of the crashing waves, the stickiness of the moist ocean air, and the fading in and fading out of conversation through my half-opened car windows were all very familiar. But things like the passing of a bickering young husband and his pregnant wife, the middle-aged woman with droopy boobs, and the Howie Day CD in my disc changer introduced feelings I had never experienced before.

I caught myself wondering what sort of home the son or daughter of that bickering husband and wife would grow up in. I wondered if the husband was jealous of his wife because she had the privilege of carrying their unborn child. They parked in the space next to mine, got out of their car and headed towards the sidewalk to begin their evening stroll. Seconds later, the petite brown haired wife requested that her beloved grab her sweater from the back seat of their steel blue sedan. He snapped back, “You’re always cold!” I wondered when the moment was that the love that couple shared in the bedroom the moment they created the child living within her womb escaped their relationship only to be exchanged with moments like this.

I saw a beauty in the lady with droopy boobs that only a silver wedding anniversary could bring. She radiated years of motherhood and carried the stride of a woman completely confident in her skin, which she undoubtedly saturated with Pond’s Cold Cream every night. She was the type of woman who bought place mats for the dining room table because those are the things that make a house a home. Her Better Homes & Gardens Cookbook was propped open against the kitchen counter more than it was closed and on the shelf collecting dust. She spent her Monday evenings clipping coupons from Sunday’s paper. When asked what he loved most about his wife of 27 years, her husband would endearingly reply, “Her droopy boobs.” It made me sad to think that the young pregnant couple didn’t share this sort of love.

As I soaked in every word I was reading, I couldn’t help but realize that the music playing in the background of my tiny little car was, in a strange way, the soundtrack of my life at that moment. As I read about the songs that were shaping Charlie’s life at 16 years old, I was realizing that I too am being shaped by the musical poetry I introduce my ears to. I had the urge to create a mixed CD like the one Charlie created for Patrick to remind me of these moments in my life. I wanted to somehow bottle up those hours at the harbor tonight the way I wished I could have bottled up the picnics, birthdays, ice cream, and long walks years ago.

I didn’t even come close to sharing with you nearly as much as I wanted to tonight, but if I don’t go to sleep now, I’ll be disappointed in myself in the morning for sleeping in later than I hope to. I’m weird that way.

I don’t know what to say,

oh life...

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

quinoa w/ soy-glazed veggies & goat cheese.

i'm a huge fan of quinoa. i love the way it tastes a little nutty, i love the way it looks with those curly little grainy ends, and i love the way you could pretty much use it in any combination of things...even stuffed in sweet pears! yeah, i know. that's next on my list! quinoa is an excellent source of protein to boot (along with countless other nutritional benefits)! (1 cup = about 50% of your daily value!) this is great news for the vegetarian/nutrition conscious me. and also, that doesn't leave my tall baller much room to complain that he's not getting enough protein in our frequently veggie friendly meals :) where there's a will, there's a way.

last night, like most nights, i was in the mood for this delicious culinary friend of mine. i had several carrots in the fridge that definitely had been ignored for about a week or so now. so i peeled and sliced about 5 carrots and steamed them in hot water for a few minutes, just until al dente. i drained the water and set them aside. meanwhile, i chopped 1 red bell pepper and 1 red onion (tear!) and sauteed them in a few tablespoons of olive oil. when they were somewhat softened, i added the carrots to cook for a few minutes more. then came the mushrooms (about 20 mushrooms, quartered). as the mushrooms were absorbing a lot of the juice from the other veggies, i added a few generous shakes of soy sauce. i kept all of this going on medium-low heat while the quinoa was doing it's thing. another great thing about quinoa is that it only takes about 20 minutes to cook; just enough time to get the veggies in and out at the same time. i topped it all off with a handful or so of goat cheese cubes (the goat cheese here in la palma is a different consistency, though delicious! they are known for it, along with the mojo of the canarias!) as the veggies and quinoa were all mixed together, the goat cheese softened amidst the heat and was a perfect compliment to the soy and nutty quinoa.

to read up more on quinoa, go here: (my blog is weird and won't let me attach the 'clickable' link, so just copy and paste if you want to visit the site)

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

feliz navidad.

12€ is all it took to fabricate this little spanish christmas gem. here's the run down:

4.50 - 2 foot fraudulent christmas tree
2.75 - silver & red bulbs & star for the tippy top
4.75 - strand of 50 mini white lights

and the happiness it brings to our little casa - priceless.

funny how the most joy often comes out of the simplest of pleasures. life is surprising, indeed.

Monday, November 24, 2008

carried away.

my sweetest momma sent me a crafty package a few weeks ago chock-full of yarn in 3 shades, knitting and crocheting needles, needlepoint thread and needles, buttons, a canvas tote bag...and even small cinnamon pine cones to make our apartment smell delicious! to top it all off, she even included 2 packages of nestle's hot cocoa (with mellows!) and a little bag of reeses pieces for fred and i to share. talk about the most wonderful momma...i tell ya...that woman is something else!

today's been sort of a rainy outside/stay inside kind of day. after i caught up on a few emails and tended to the laundry, i was feeling a bit crafty. i've also been feeling like i could use a new purse/bag on my pretty little shoulder ;) so...i decided i'd get out my needle and thread and go to town on my new tote bag! i set out with just the heart in mind and then got a little carried away with love... we so often do <3

Friday, November 21, 2008

this is my brother & i miss him.

"Brothers and sisters are as close as hands and feet." -Vietnamese Proverb

"There's no other love like the love for a brother. There's no other love like the love from a brother." -Astrid Alauda

"God has blessed me again and again...Always a sister, always a friend." -Author Unknowm

"A brother is a friend God gave you; A friend is a brother your heart chose." -Proverb

"A man of many companions may come to ruin, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother." -Proverbs 18:24

love you scotty.

Sunday, November 16, 2008


remember what Bilbo used to say: It's a dangerous business, Frodo, going out your door. You step onto the road, and if you don't keep your feet, there's no knowing where you might be swept off to. -j.r.r. tolkien

man cannot discover new oceans unless he has the courage to lose sight of the shore. -andre gide

we should come home from adventures, and perils, and discoveries every day with new experience and character. -henry david thoreau

yesterday john and i decided to take advantage of the sunshine and good weather and try our hand at paragliding. fred was our photographer extraordinaire :) we flew out at a point looking over the beach in puerto naos, on the other side of the island from where we live in los cancajos. the experience was incredible and the view was breathtaking.

BBQ update.

this past week/weekend, our friend john was visiting from sweden. we had such a great time together and after a few cloudy and rainy days, the sun finally returned on john's last day in la palma. what luck! so last night we made sure to try out the grill again...and lo' and behold, the boys got the fire started! dinner was on it's way...accompanied by many glasses of sangria to top off a perfect november day in the company of a good friend.


i just finished a great book called letters to my son, by kent nerburn. lately, i've been hopping from one book to another and i feel so blessed to have read so many good ones these past few months...and to have the time to do so. i found myself turning down corner and after corner on pages that i wanted to refer back to later. this book was full of inspiring words. though it was written from the author to his son, it is indeed a book that carries a timeless message(s) for all.

here is a quote that made me think of where i am and what i do, that being 'travel'...

"this is the magic of travel. any travel. you leave your home secure in your own knowledge and identity. but as you travel, the world in all its richness intervenes. you meet people you could not invent; you see scenes you could not imagine. your own world, which was so large as to consume your whole life, becomes smaller and smaller until it is only one tiny dot in time and space.
you return a different person.
all you need to do is give yourself over to the unknown. it doesn't have to be on a vast, dreamlike artic plain. it can be on a gentle stroll through a Wisconsin forest or on a street corner in Nairobi. what matters is that you have left the comfort of the familiar and opened yourself to a world that is totally apart from your own. be a real traveler you must be willing to give yourself over to the moment and take yourself out of the center of your universe. you must believe totally in the lives of the people and the places where you find yourself, even if it causes you to lose faith in the life you left behind.
you need to share with them, participate with them. sit at their tables, go to their streets. struggle with their language. tell them stories of your life and hear the stories of theirs. watch how they love each other, how they fight each other. see what they value and what they fear. feel the spaces they keep in their lives.
become part of the fabric of their everyday lives and you will get a sense of what it means to live in their world. give yourself over to them - embrace them rather than judge them - and you will find that the beauty in their lives and their world will become part of yours.
when you move on, you will have grown. you will realize that the possibilities of life in this world are endless, and that beneath our differences of language and culture we all share the dream of loving and being loved, of having a life with more joy than sorrow."

i want to be a traveler, not a tourist. i want to leave my world least for a moment...long enough to experience the lives and places of someone and somewhere new. i want to return a different person.

green-olive bulgur w/ grilled zucchini & mint.

i made this dish last week when i was rummaging through some old recipes i had clipped, saved and brought from home. this was one i found in rachael ray's 'everyday' magazine. her original recipe was titled 'green-olive chicken and couscous', but i didn't have any chicken at home (not that i eat it anyway) and to be perfectly honest, i didn't really want to make the 3 minute walk to the store at 7pm. so! i made a few adjustments of my own. i replaced the chicken with tuna and the couscous with bulgur. i had everything else here at home. i could eat squash every day, so naturally this dish appealed to me. i also loved the combination of lemon zest, cinnamon and fresh mint. all of those flavors came through in the end result. the semi-sweetness of the grilled zucchini and onions balanced out the tartness of the green olives. the garlic and cayenne pepper played their part too and gave the dish a little zip. so many flavors and so much fun!

Saturday, November 8, 2008


when fred and i first decided that we were moving to our apartment here in los cancajos, one of the main events we were looking forward to was bbq-ing on our new balcony. the incredible ocean view, the pool and garden below, the plastic table and chairs that were provided...we visualized it all. sitting there, sunset ahead, with our red rioja wine in hand, fred digging away at his grilled solomillo steak with gorgonzola sauce...and me and my grilled veggies and salmon filet...that dream alone was enough to get us to sign the papers the day we met apartment numero 36.

fast forward 3 weeks. our sweet little fire-engine red bbq stands solemnly in the corner of our balcony. we attempted to give it a trial run a week ago, but to no avail. the fire would just not light! fred was out there giving it his all, and no hope was in sight. he had the same report from a fellow teammate and discovered that the missing link was some sort of special lighter sticks. go spain. so after a week of rain, we bought them today when we were out and fred was determined to master the grill before the night was over! again, no success. this darn fire is bound to light at some point! apparently, just not on our watch. huge bummer. the skewers were ready to go and that juicy solomillo was quivering on the plate, waiting to meet (no pun intended) those toasty coals. only one thing: those coals were not so toasty.

we shrugged our shoulders, whined a little, and brought everything inside. i got the skillet(s) warmed up and things were up and running. we will not go to bed hungry, but we will go to bed with 'fire' in our hearts for the next time around! fred had his solomillo steak with gorgonzola, we both had these delicious vegetable skewers (marinated in a little bit o' soy sauce), and we enjoyed our rioja wine...but that dream will come true...sooner than later, we hope. oh little spanish grill, we have faith in you :)

Sunday, November 2, 2008

r & r.

fred and i have both been dying to visit one of the most talked about hotels here in la palma. when fred is home on the weekends, saturday is usually our only full day to venture out and this saturday was a perfect day to pay a little visit to 'la palma princess hotel.' we started the morning off at home with coffee and a fresh bowl of chopped pears, persimons, cactus fruit and bananas (probably la palma's second largest source of income...there are banana trees EVERYWHERE!). then we began our 30 minute drive south at around noon. we arrived, checked in, wandered around a bit by the pool(s) and ate lunch at a waterfront/island pizzeria in the middle of all the pools. the view was spectaular and the food just the same. we shared a pizza (naturally) and a tropical salad. fred had a cold beer and i had a nice glass of white wine. this was the perfect way to get in the mood for our massage that was scheduled about an hour later! we arrived at the spa, spent a few minutes in the sauna and then each had a full-body massage. let me tell you, if massages were free, i would get one (or two) every day. they might be one of the best investments a person can make. of course, i'm being 100% superficial right now and at this moment i'm not even taking myself seriously, but was nice! afterwards, we did 'the circuit' in the pool (ice bath, jacuzzi, high-pressured showers, etc.) and spent the last few minutes in the turkish bath and sauna. i think i speak for the both of us when i say that i felt like JELL-O when we walked out of that place. absolutely heavenly. we went back to our room, changed clothes and made our way to the lounge for a few drinks before dinner. dinner was a complimentary buffet in the dining hall and we both went bananas. the food was delicious! and of course, as most people do at a buffet, we ate far too much. and we did the same thing this morning at breakfast before we left. we laid out at the pool for a little while before it was time to check out, but a ginormous rain cloud took our sunshine away, so our hour of pool time was cut short. we packed our bag, checked out and made our way home. we took a new route through fuencaliente and enjoyed the plethera of lava rock and farming fields along the way. though the roads are windy here in little la palma, the view is always surprising and always breathtaking. a full day of r & r was just what we needed. now the diet begins!

Friday, October 31, 2008

cherry tomato spaghetti all'amatriciana.

i tore this recipe out from rachael ray's 'every day' magazine a few months back. i finally came accross it again this week and decided to try it out. pasta dishes of any kind are welcome in our house, as my tall baller can always make use of those carbs. this recipe called for small chunks of pancetta (italian bacon), but i used chopped pieces of parma ham instead (much easier to find in spain). i started out by cooking the ham in a little bit of EVOO until it started to get a little crisp to it. then i added 1 chopped red onion, 4 cloves crushed garlic (YUM!) and a dash or two of cayenne pepper. i didn't have the crushed red pepper on hand that the recipe called for. cayenne did the trick. after about a minute, i added 1/2 cup of vegetable broth (i didn't have white wine or chicken broth), 3 medium sized chopped tomatoes (the cherry tomatoes at our little corner market were ungodly!) and a 'generous' amount of salt and pepper (as the recipe suggested). i omitted the parsley (i only had cilantro in the fridge) and let this amazing mixture of goodness simmer while the pasta had just a few minutes left to go. when i drained the pasta, i reserved 1 cup of the hot water and tossed it back in the pasta pot, along with the pasta and tomato mixture. i gave this all a few big swirls and served it with freshly chopped basil and parmesan on top! now, i'm no meat eater, but the flavor of the ham sure makes a difference. the chunks are big enough to eat around and still enjoy the overall essence of the dish :) fred was in heaven, he had two bowls full! i just found out today that his friend will be visiting us from sweden in a few weeks. this dish is on the menu!

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

heather's quinoa recipe.

i found this recipe on heidi swanson's blog, 101 cookbooks, and it looked so good. go figure! her recipes are the best! our local market didn't have basil(i know!) or pesto, so i used la palma's signature cilantro mojo instead. i also substituted brown rice for the quinoa (we had quinoa the night before). the tomatoes, roasted in olive oil and brown sugar, were to die for! basically, this is what we ended up with: brown rice+tofu+spinach+corn+roasted brown sugared tomatoes+pumpkin seeds+cilantro mojo :)

fajita night.

fred's been craving last week we had a fajita night. of course i made his with grilled chicken strips. the rest of the ingredients included 1 big yellow onion and those 3 beautiful peppers you see above. i topped them off with sliced avocado and a little goat cheese. a random, yet delicious, touch! fred says they can make an appearance again anytime.

chocolate chip walnut cookies.

"God gave the angels wings, and he gave humans chocolate." -Anonymous

pasta w/no-cook tomato sauce.

hats off to that rachael ray gal. she's always comin' up with somethin'. i tore this recipe out of her 'everyday with rachael ray' magazine when i was home visiting my grams a few months ago. i had forgotten about it until it surfaced last i gave it a whirl! i crushed a few chopped tomatoes with my hands (so fun by the way!) and added a bit of salt and pepper. then i poured in a little bit of garlic-infused olive oil that i had set to the side. finally, i added some lemon zest and cubes of butter and tossed it all in with the hot pasta. mixed with freshly chopped basil and topped with fresh parmesan, it was delicioso!

hummus en fuego.

i'm a hummus fan for sure. and a fan of heidi swanson's blog, 101 cookbooks. here's to a blessed union of both faves!

apple cinnamon chips.

"Even if I knew that tomorrow the world would go to pieces, I would still plant my apple tree." -Martin Luther

Thursday, October 9, 2008

caramel pear butter.

yes, it IS as good as it sounds! i was introduced to this recipe by my 'swedican' friend julie...and thank goodness for THAT. she and i recipe swap almost every other day and earlier this week she told me about this recipe she found in her bon apetit magazine. 6 simple ingredients combined to make a masterpiece perfect for the fall season. i was crossing everything on my body as i walked to the market this afternoon, hoping they would have pears in the produce department. as mentioned in previous posts, our produce here in la palma is questionable...and i'm often left without what i need. hey, i'm not a bitter blogger, just an honest one ;) but alas! la mercado had pears o' plenty! i wasn't sure how many i needed (as the recipe from was in american conversions and not european), so i grabbed about 10 pears and went on my way! i arrived home, made a quick lunch for the swede and i and got to work on my pears. i could hardly wait! i only had 1/3 of the brown sugar the recipe called for, so i cut the entire recipe into (yes, you guessed it) 1/3. first, i added apple juice and fresh squeezed lemon juice into a deep stainless steel pot. then i peeled, cored and cut each pear into small chunks and added them to the pot. i brought this mixture to a boil for about 15 minutes (continuously stirring)...then lowered the temperature to about medium-low and simmered it for another 20 minutes, covered, but still peeking and stirring every 5 minutes or so. i removed the pot from the heat and gave it a quick puree with my hand mixer. i returned the pot to the heat, added a little more lemon juice, a pinch of coarse salt, a packed cup of brown sugar and a tad bit o' nutmeg...the nutmeg is KEY! it absolutely shines through in the final product. and as my dear grams always tells me, nutmeg is every good recipe's secret ingredient. after boiling this sweet mixture for about 45 minutes-1 hour, i removed it from the heat and poured it in hot jars that i had just sterilized in boiling water. my clever mama taught me a secret to remove the air i took her at her word and held a stainless steel butter knife in the jar as i poured the 'butter' into the jars. apparently that does the trick! i screwed the sterilized lids on tight and put the jars in boiling water for about 10 minutes to 'process' them as the recipe says. after all this, my only complaint is that 1/3 of the recipe only yields about 1 1/2 small jars. i can already tell i'll be pining for more in a few days. i have about 6 pears left, so if i can get my hands on some brown sugar this weekend, i'll for sure be making more. happy october...och tack så mycket söt julie!