Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Fur Hat, Fer Sure

I have begun working with the blue and purple long pile faux fur that I bought from Distinctive It is so awesome! The "dots" on the photo below are what the underside of the fabric looks like; it's almost as pretty as the fur side. Anyway, I took this material...

bluefur (Medium)

and made this!

CIMG3281 (Medium)

I still want to modify the pattern a little bit; make the ears more triangular and the hat a little bit shorter, but for a first attempt it worked out pretty well. Can't wait to take it to Burning Man and either wear it or share it!

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Father's Day 2010

Joel and I took Ethan to the park for awhile on Sunday, and he had an awesome time playing with his daddy.

CIMG3272 (Medium)

Joel would run to the top or bottom of a little hill, and then Ethan would chase him down until he finally got to where he wanted-- swinging around in Joel's arms.

CIMG3261 (Medium)

He was thrilled! It's usually pretty easy to please this kid; he likes to be outside, he likes to run around and climb on things, he likes water and hoses and tools, he just loves with all his heart to be active. And if he can tinker with things at the same time, it's like heaven. Definitely his father's son!

CIMG3270 (Medium)

Monday, June 28, 2010

Food: Southwestern Egg Rolls

One of my favorite recipes for summer is Southwestern Egg Rolls, which I found on I like to mix up the filling depending on what I have around in the kitchen, and have used fish, chicken, ground beef, or no meat at all with great results. I like to serve it with Amy's Cilantro Cream Sauce as a dip... YUM! It's got a very green, refreshing taste to it, especially when you bake it rather than fry it. I'm going to share my modified version of the Southwestern Egg Rolls recipe below. Enjoy! I know we did-- even Ethan went crazy for my fish-filled version.


(PS-- Not my photo, but aren't they gorgeous?)

Southwestern Egg Rolls

* 1.5-2 cups of seasoned, cooked meat (fish, ground beef, chicken), diced
* 2 tablespoons minced green onion
* 2 tablespoons minced red bell pepper
* 1/3 cup frozen corn kernels
* 1/4 cup black beans, rinsed and drained
* 2 tablespoons frozen chopped spinach, thawed and drained (optional)
* 1-2 tablespoons diced jalapeno peppers (or 1-2 tsp. hot sauce)
* 1/4 cup minced fresh cilantro
* 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
* 1/2 teaspoon chili powder
* 1/3 teaspoon salt
* 1 pinch ground cayenne pepper
* 3/4 cup shredded Monterey Jack (or blended, cheddar-jack, pepper-jack, etc.)
* 1 package Egg Roll wrappers (check refrigerated section of the store)

1. Pre-heat oven to 425 degrees F. Line two cookie pans with parchment paper. (It helps to keep the egg rolls from sticking to the pan.)
2. Mix all ingredients except egg roll wrappers in a large bowl.
3. Spoon even amounts of the mixture into each egg roll wrapper. Follow the package directions to fold up the egg rolls correctly, moistening the closing edge to ensure that it adheres to the wrapper. Repeat until all filling has been used. (At this point, you can refrigerate the egg rolls until you want to bake them; just put them on the lined pans, cover with foil and stick them in the fridge.)
4. Arrange egg rolls on the parchment-lined cookie pans. Spray the tops of the egg rolls with cooking spray, then bake at 425-F for 15 minutes. Turn egg rolls over and cook an additional 5-7 minutes, then remove from oven and cool on wire racks. Serve with Amy's Cilantro Cream Sauce, sour cream and salsa.

Friday, June 25, 2010


PS-- Forgot to post my outfit from the Burning Man Pre-Compression Party in San Francisco last weekend. Do I look like a Burner, or what? :)

mel_SFburner (Medium)

Had a great time, but now I want even more to get my abs in gear for summer.

Women's Work

I've been neglecting my blog this week. Partly because Ethan has been a little under the weather and I've had my hands full with him, and partly because I've been in a bit of a funk. And not the James Brown kind of funk, either.

No, it's been tough this week to deal with the issues that have faced womankind since the days of Eve, and will probably still be there to give us sleepless nights and worry lines on our faces until the end of time. What are those issues? Well, you probably can already guess a few of them, but they all revolve around the question of "women's work" and what it really means to be a wife and mother, without losing what it means to be a woman and a lover and an individual. There are so many things I've been asking myself this week:
-- Why is it my job to do the cleaning and care for the house?
-- Why is it assumed that I will be the primary carer for our child, even when both of us are in the house and to all intents and purposes, not doing much at the time?
-- Why am I in charge of everything related to the kitchen? And the rest of the house, for that matter?
-- Why do I have to ask for "babysitting" from my spouse?

I know that I'm a stay-at-home mom, don't get me wrong; but does that mean that I'm solely responsible and the default "in charge" person 24 hours a day, 7 days a week? It doesn't seem right to me. If I was working full-time, and my husband was working full-time, wouldn't it seem right to share the responsibilities (and fun times, too!) equally between us when we are off work and on weekends or trips? I guess it just feels unfair, to some degree; how did this happen to a former feminist club president?! I find my "self" fading away sometimes, behind the overwhelming duties of being a mother. Even my role as a wife is subsumed in the mommy role, and that worries me. How are we expected to maintain a romantic, loving, affectionate connection when we both see me as "mom" instead of as Melanie?

And it doesn't seem like it would be that difficult to change this rut we've gotten into, either. But I can't do it alone, and even then I don't know just how to make it work. I don't want to seem like a dominating authoritarian who is making rules and laying down the law, but I also don't want to end up with things staying just like this for the next twenty years (until the kid(s) grow up). I haven't given up on having a little bit of romance in my life on a regular basis... but how do I create an environment in which romance can blossom? Guess I'll have to ponder that one while I do the laundry. (sigh)

Monday, June 21, 2010

Tool Time with Ethan

CIMG3212 (Medium)

One of Ethan's favorite things to do is go out in the garage and work with his dad. (Okay, so maybe "near" would have been more accurate than "with.")

CIMG3213 (Medium)

Ever since he was a tiny little thing, he has loved to play with anything metallic or mechanical. He tries to unscrew things using a pencil or stick if he can't reach it with his own fingers, and he is constantly trying to see how things work. He already figured out how to unlock certain of our child safety locks, before he even hit eighteen months. Truly his father's son!

CIMG3210 (Medium)

Except when daddy's working. Then, he's his mother's son, and his mother is expected to get him out of the garage STAT. Apparently, toddlers aren't as much help as you might think when you're working with RV generators and electrical appliances.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Cool Pool

CIMG3168 (Medium)

Ethan has a new water toy. It hooks up to the garden hose, which fills the outside ring and also fills a few of the interior toys (the palm tree and fish). While the hose is on, there are little "fountains" of water from the holes throughout the pool. Ethan's favorite thing to do these days is stand in front of a stream of water and try to catch it in his mouth. It cracks him up for the longest time; lucky he's so easy to amuse, I guess!

The thing is, I'm not sure who enjoys it more, Ethan...
CIMG3173 (Medium)

... or his daddy:
CIMG3179 (Medium)

All I know is, they have a lot of fun out there!
CIMG3176 (Medium)

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Oatmeal Surprise

The surprise is this: Ethan actually ate oatmeal for breakfast yesterday! Yes, it's true; we count this as a huge success in our house. He has such a sketchy record with food lately that when he eats a new item or finishes an entire meal, we get inordinately happy. For the past few weeks, every so often he will take a bite or two of Joel's instant oatmeal with his breakfast. Yesterday, I decided to try him out with his own bowl, and guess what? He loved it! It was also a lot easier for him to feed himself, because the oatmeal clings to the spoon so well. He cleared out probably half of the bowl, which I think is pretty good for an eighteen month old. :)

Speaking of which, did I mention that we took him in for his appointment last week, and he's in the 93rd percentile for his height? He's already 34 inches tall-- almost three feet!-- which makes him taller than 93% of other kids his age. I guess we're doing something right, if he's at the top of his game height-wise. Of course, he also has a head circumference that is in the 98th percentile... the more to carry around his giant brain, right? He already fits into a size 3-- as in, three-year-old-- bicycle helmet. That's my boy! Every time I think about it, I remember the scene in "So I Married An Axe Murderer"... tee-hee!

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Pursed Lips

In the past month or so, Ethan has started doing this weird thing with his lips. I'm not sure why, or what it signifies, because he does it at random times. Sometimes it's when he's irritated with me, or when I've said "No" about something he's doing. Other times, it's when he's trying to make me understand what he wants or needs, and I don't get it. Maybe it's his "I'm frustrated" face, or his way of saying "no" himself. Either way, it is absolutely hilarious, and I love it. It looks like he's trying to kiss something invisible...

CIMG3086 (Medium)

And sometimes he will do this strange, sharp inhale while he's making that face with the pursed lips. I wonder if he's just doing it to feel the sensation that the air makes when it rushes, cool and fast, across your teeth and into your mouth. Try it... isn't that funny? I'm just glad I at least caught it on camera, before he learns how to talk and stops doing it.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010


One of Ethan's favorite games right now...
CIMG3082 (Medium)

is playing peek-a-boo with daddy.
CIMG3083 (Medium)

It just cracks him up; he could play it for hours, if we'd let him. In fact, he'll actually grab your hands and force them up to cover your face if you take too long getting them up there. He's in charge, buddy, and you'd better perform-- or else!

Monday, June 14, 2010

Laguna Beach, CA

The day after the Fiske wedding, Joel and I headed over to Laguna Beach, just a few minutes north of Dana Point along Highway 1. The town has a sort of Santa Cruz feel to it, with lots of funky shops and people wandering the streets in flip flops and bathing suits, boardwalk craft fairs and guys stripping out of their wetsuits in the middle of the beach... it was a lot of fun. The weather was perfect, and we decided to have a quick walk-around before starting the long, long drive back home. Joel tore off his shirt to try for a quick burn and jump-start his tan for Burning Man... not that I minded, of course.
jomel_laguna_053010 (Medium)

The water was gorgeous, the weather was neither too hot nor too cool, and we just played around in the morning air, wishing we could stay longer.
DSC00641 (Medium)

And wishing we'd brought Ethan, too. We saw other toddlers there having a blast, and decided that we'd take him to the coast as soon as possible once we got back home. We also brought back some souvenirs for Stefanie, who was babysitting Ethan and loves collecting shells:
DSC00639 (Medium)

The only thing to mar our fun was when I stepped on something-- probably a bee or wasp-- and stung the bejeesus out of my right foot. It burned something fierce, and then when I stumbled away in pain to sit down on a nearby rock, I slid off of it and slammed into a scratchy outcropping, scraping my entire arm into a bruised road rash. Ouch! Lesson learned: wear water shoes at the beach, and look before you sit. Think I'll remember that for next time?

Friday, June 11, 2010

The Back Yard, Again

Here's another one of my yard projects... the cactus "garden." Do those two words even go together, at all??

CIMG3081 (Medium)

Can you say "child health hazard" three times fast? It's one of Ethan's favorite places to try exploring, which of course means I have an attack of the crazies every time I see him get near it. I want to get a fence around it that has openings too small for Ethan's hands to fit through, and is sturdy enough to stand up to any pushing or shoving that he might do in an attempt to dive headfirst into the cactus area. In my dreams, I'd rip it all out and make it into a fire pit or something, but since this is a rental house I figured that I should probably just make it less accessible to a curious toddler. Though a backard fire pit would be kind of cool...


Anyway, dreams are nice because there is always a possibility of one day seeing them come true, but for now you don't have to worry about actually putting them into action. At least our roses are doing well, after Joel's tender ministrations put them back into good health.

CIMG3079 (Medium)

Still have a ton of work to do on the yard, but seeing these little things improve gives me the energy to put my shoulder to the wheel and keep pushing.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Dana Point, CA: Wedding Weekend pt.2

It was a beautiful, intimate, genuine wedding, with a sincere show of love and affection from a very nice group of people. Oh, and one very sweet, very in-depth, very long wedding speech from the groom's mother. (The father of the groom gave a helpful shout-out about the time limits at the 24-minute mark, which got the whole reception giggling.) The lovely wedded couple, Mr. and Mrs. Greg & Karla Fiske, wowed the reception with their dance moves:
DSC00600 (Medium)

There were some great friends there, too, which always makes a party that much better. Because Greg and Joel met at San Jose State, a lot of the guests were their dorm buddies, like John, Phil, Dave, and Jen. They still keep in fairly regular contact with each other, which I think is pretty cool. It's tough to maintain friendships for twenty years, but these guys are doing it!

Joel's SJSU college friend John and his fiance Andrea, who will be getting married this August in Tahoe:
DSC00589 (Medium)

Joel's SJSU college friend Dave and his wife Vy, who got married in 2008:
DSC00587 (Medium)

And even a friend or two I hadn't met yet, like Joel's SJSU college friend Jen & her husband:
DSC00627 (Medium)

We had a great time, and even though we missed Ethan, it was nice to have a little weekend vacation to ourselves. Keeps the romance alive, what what?

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Playing Outside

Ethan loves to be outside. I know, I know, what kid doesn't? But he is really enjoying the weather change that allows us to spend more time outdoors. Now that the rain and wet is finally done with, we can play and have fun out in the yard. He absolutely adores his water table, which we picked up by chance at a yard sale for under $5.00. What a bargain!

CIMG3068 (Medium)

He's also taken to climbing up on the patio chairs, which is problematic because they fall over very easily, and I keep having these recurring visions of him doing a chair flip right onto the edge of a cement block. So far, though, he's using his rudimentary sign language to tell us when he wants to get down.

CIMG3067 (Medium)

That's definitely the easy way!

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Dana Point, CA-- Wedding Weekend pt.1

DSC00557 (Medium)

We went down to Dana Point, which is a beachy little city to the northwest of L.A., for a friend's wedding on Memorial Day weekend. We started off Saturday just wandering around Dana Point harbor with our friends John & Andrea, acting like silly tourists who were posing for the paparazzi...

DSC00558 (Medium)

And then went on to the wedding via a trolley that Greg & Karla's family had set up to take guests over to the reception site. Who's that happy couple, ma?

DSC00580 (Medium)

It was only there, in their beautiful gardens, that we realized all three of us couples had dressed in matchy-match outfits reminiscent of prom-- each man's shirt color reflected his partner's dress color. Too cutesy-pie, right? First we collectively rolled our eyes, then we laughed, and then we took a photo to memorialize it forever, of course!

DSC00594 (Medium)

Monday, June 7, 2010


Had a few too many fruity concoctions over at Sammy & T's house last night... still in recovery. Hope I start feeling better before I have to take Ethan in for his 18-month appointment at 10:00. Ugh.

Friday, June 4, 2010

BBQ food + photos

I'm getting that barbecue feeling again... ever since we moved into this house, I have tried to take advantage of having such a big back yard by having barbecues as often as possible. I love having company over, and I really enjoy entertaining, so it is always fun to invite people to come and share a meal with us. Okay, maybe not *always*, but it's pretty much guaranteed that you'll at least have some good food at our house. For example...

IMG_0344 (Medium)

We had this at a recent get-together. Bacon-wrapped filet mignon, tropical chicken skewers, homemade red potato salad, grilled zucchini and squash, garlic bread, fresh strawberries, and yummy lemon-coconut bars for dessert. Makes me want to set up another one, and soon!

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Weeds Begone

Ever since we moved in, the back yard has been a disaster. Every so often we go all out and try to spruce it up, but we're hesitant to put too much money into it because it's only a rental. Now that Ethan's up and walking around and able to play back there, though, I've developed a newfound motivation to work in the yard. One of my first goals is to deal with this type of crabgrass-weed-scratchy-yuck that is carpeting the "lawn."

CIMG3087 (Medium)

I can't stand it! It's so rough that you can hardly walk on it without discomfort. I decided to weed a bit:

CIMG3088 (Medium)

And ended up with bare dirt, because pretty much anything that was green was a nasty weed. As one of my friends mentioned, it'll make a lot of great compost!

CIMG3116 (Medium)

It'll have to do, until I can figure out what type of ground cover I can put down there instead. For now, he loves to dig in the dirt and make little piles everywhere, so at least he's enjoying the fruits of my labor.