Monday, August 31, 2009

More Etsy inspiration

I am just loving the inspirational artwork of all kinds that I find on Etsy. Toys, photos, clothing, jewelery, you name it, someone is doing amazing things with it.

Like this artist and her fun, adorable dolls;

It is great to know the world still has so much creativity in it.

So far, my eclectic Etsy shop- MelaMarie is still tiny, but I am taking baby steps and having fun with it. It's been a family project- my kids have been scouting thrift stores and crafting with me, my husband has been commenting that if the kids and I could ust get an assembly line going and sell enough clay fruit, he could spend his days sailing. Well, a guy can dream anyway, but I hadn't exactly imagined supporting the family with this little venture anytime soon.

For me, finding and making stuff is the easiest part; actually getting it photographed and listed is more of a challenge, but like most things in life, the more I do it, the quicker and easier it gets. I considered setting a goal just now of having a certain number of items in my shop by the holidays, but that sounds like a good way to stress myself out. For now, I'll keep my goals to myself, and keep having fun with my shop.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Slacker Home Improvement

In my home decorating, like in many other areas of my life, I guess I am a bit of a slacker. Since two of my good friends have recently been going through the process of building big, beautiful new homes, I have been taking a look at mine, and seeing lots of room for improvement. I was getting a bit of a case of nice, big, fancy, new home envy, but in reality I know that I would be truly stressed with a huge mortgage and expensive white cabinets that my dirty fingered family members would ruin before I had paid for.

So, the best I can do at the moment is make do with what I have, and try to spruce up this old place. I favor painting as an easy place to start. It's low cost- especially since I just mixed up a bunch of new colors out of old paint we had laying around the garage. You'd probably be surprised at the fun and interesting colors I came up with. And, I am keeping all of that old paint out of the toxic waste pile.

I love that painting is quick- especially since I tend to skip much of the prep work. Yeah, yeah, I know the prep work is the most important part of a good paint job- or so I've heard from people who have really nice paint jobs, but I just don't have the patience for that at this point in my life. I'm not a detail oriented kinda gal, and I really have no desire to sand, tape and whatever else I'm supposed to do for weeks before I can even get get started on painting. I want to see some change now. I figure if I get off the big flakes of old paint and the largest cobwebs, and paint over the rest of the stuff- it can just be part of my artsy texturing effect. Although several spiders homes were painted over as a part of eminent domain, they were all relocated to a nearby oak tree, and to my knowledge none were hurt or killed during this project.

I do like to do different colors on each wall, and unfortunately if you look closely at all, this shows that corners are not my specialty. But, it doesn't really matter if it's a perfect job. Who's going to be staring at my corners anyway? And who cares if it doesn't last for 10 years? I'll be ready for new colors at some point and paint again, or maybe by that time, this home will be being demolished for parts and we will be building our new house.

For right now, it's really nice to see progress in an afternoon- a purple back door, some red, orange and yellow cabinets in the kitchen, and a teal wall in the laundry room. I may look at my paint job in a week and wonder what I was thinking, but at the moment, I am really liking the effect of adding instant color to my life.

I have also taken to matting and framing kids' artwork, and hanging it all over. They are so proud when guests comment, and I think the art gallery effect really jazzes the place up.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Book Club

I love having a book club. A friend asked me to join her well established book club a few years back, and it's been a real treat for a social bookworm like me. The concept is simple. An assorted group of women who enjoys reading gathers regularly to enjoy good food and good conversation. We get together monthly, most of the time with no husbands and no kids (except of course nursing babies who get to go wherever their mamas do.) Our ages span probably 25 to 30 years and we've had nurses, teachers, stay at home moms, college students and more in the mix. The meal is a potluck, and what everyone is bringing is often a surprise. Yes, we have ended up with 6 desserts in one night, but there are worse things that can happen to a person. Last night we had fresh pasta with pesto, green salad, home made bread, berry pie and oatmeal raisin cookies. Oh, and plenty of wine too. We rotate as host, making the entree, choosing the book, and hoping most of the others enjoy it.

Although we do talk about the book of choice, and usually other books almost every meeting, we also just talk smack about all kinds of things, which is really nice to do once in a while, especially with no husbands or kids around. Mamas often have to censor themselves in the presence of their offspring, and it's nice to let loose every now and then. I like seeing the mamas with little ones get a break from their life of service, and I like learning from the wiser women who have seen more of life than I have. I like the debating and sharing, the laughing out loud and supporting each other in hard times. I like staying out late, eating feasts fit for a queen and gabbing into the night. And I like the books too.

A book club might not be everyone's cup of tea, but I think most every mom could benefit from a girl's night out. However you pull it off, even if it's only once every couple of months, it does wonder for the mood and makes me a better mom and wife on my return home.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Controversy over a Breastfeeding Doll?

No, I do not listen to Fox News, but someone at work sent this to me and I thought the angry reactions were interesting. A doll that “allows” girls to pretend they are breastfeeding. Some folks seem to be rather upset by the idea, saying that it could traumatize young girls, or lead to teen pregnancy. I work with lots of teen moms, and while most got into the situation by accident, I've met a few who just wanted a baby to love. I've never met one who got pregnant because they were so excited about the idea of breastfeeding though. I'd say many of them are afraid of, or at least freaked out by the idea.

Besides, when a mother with more than one child is breastfeeding the baby, surely the older ones are aware of the fact. So it's not like the doll is introducing the concept. It's just a normal part of having a baby. And how is feeding a baby an "adult concept" anyway? Personally, I find it amusing to think that kids need a special doll to let them pretend to breastfeed. My kids (both male and female) were perfectly happy to pretend to nurse stuffed bears, giraffes and elephants in addition to baby dolls. This is not because any of these toys were marketed that way, but because we hung out with families who had breastfed babies. It wasn't a big deal because they saw it all the time in everyday life. When a baby cries, someone picks them up and takes them to the mom to nurse, then the baby is happy. It's pretty simple really, and they never felt the need for a cover up either.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009


I am not a sports fan, never have been, but somehow I really get a kick out of my kids playing baseball. This has been their second season with the Junior Giants- a low key, instructional league that suits us well. They don't officially keep score (although often the kids do,) the players skills range from never having played before to very experienced, and amusingly, the parents have to take an oath that we won't be bad sports, yell at the kids, or speak badly about the coaches in the children's presence. My son's coach also warned all of us parents not to show up drunk to pick our kids up. OK... good thing he gave that warning.

As a kid, I pretty much hated baseball. I dreaded baseball in PE almost as much as I dreaded dodgeball. Standing there with a bat while some kid hurled a baseball toward my head was not something I wanted to be doing. It terrified me. I always stood at the end of the batting line up, and would let the gung-ho kids bat again until the teacher caught on and forced me up there. Thankfully, my kids have not inherited my aversion to baseball. Of course, they are choosing to play, not being forced, which makes a big difference.

Last year, both of my kids were on the same co-ed 8-10 year old team which was very convenient. This year, my daughter moved up onto the 11-13 year old team, and it was quite a step. First of all, many 13 year old boys are giants, and they throw the ball really fast. My daughter got a black eye during her second practice, but brave little soul that she is, she kept playing. That would have most likely scared me right out of the game personally, and I am rather proud of her spirit in continuing. It's been great to see what good sports all of these kids are, and watch them getting better with each game. They cheer each other on, find positive things to say and are generally much nicer than I remember the other kids being when I was one. They have all improved at the game, and best of all, they have fun. The last game they were stealing bases and sliding (or trying to slide anyway.) Very fun to watch and cheer on (while being cautious not to coach from the sidelines. Is yelling “RUN, RUN!” coaching or encouraging? The lines get blurry sometimes.)

With only a few games left for my kids this season, we had a chance to go see the Giants play in San Francisco this last weekend. Even though they lost rather badly, we still had a good time. I thought it was good for the kids to see that these pros who make millions strike out too, and more often than not, they don't make it to base. I think the players did not have a good nights sleep or eat a good breakfast because when they did get a decent hit, they weren't running fast enough to make it to the base before the ball did. My kids' coaches would have told them to “Hustle up!” I found myself occasionally shouting positive encouragement like “Good try!” which probably would have sounded pretty ridiculous to the players if they could have heard me from our far out seats. At least a few other fans looked at me a bit oddly upon hearing “Oh, you almost got it! You'll get the next one!”

We're looking forward to the last few games, and two nights of pizza parties and trophy ceremonies this week. Today, while practicing, my son pegged his sister in the eye with a ball, so she will be ending the season with a black eye as well, poor kid. Maybe baseball won't be her thing, but I sure admire her attitude and determination. It's been a great season.

Monday, August 3, 2009

Hiking McCloud Falls

After my dear husband took our tender footed, long haired dog on a 12 mile free run along the Clikapudi trail of Shasta Lake, the kids and I spent hours brushing and cutting stickers out of the poor dog who had torn up his foot pads and limped for days. I also caught poison oak out of the deal, but I'm not bitter or anything.

Well, the dogs need still need exercise, as do I, so I decided to search for some hikes the whole family could enjoy. The goal is to keep them short enough to not tear up the dogs feet, shady enough to not kill us, and to try to avoid masses of stickers and poison oak which cause work and pain later. Luckily, Northern California is full of beautiful locations that fit the bill, and I'm finding some dog-friendly ones as well.

Near the foot of Mt. Shasta, along the McCloud River, are several gorgeous waterfalls. Nurum-wit-ti-dekki or “the falls where the salmon turn back” as the native Wintu people called it, is now known as the Lower McCloud Falls. Personally, I liked the original name better, even with the English translation, but my husband didn't think it had a good ring to it.

We went on a warm Saturday afternoon, and the beach was crowded with families enjoying picnics, swimming and jumping off the falls into the icy water. We prefer less people, so we headed up the trail along the river a couple of miles to the Middle Falls stopping to swim and snack along the way. We even came upon a patch of yummy wild raspberries growing in the warm sun along the banks of the river. At one point, the trail goes past a handy campground just above the river which I put on my mental list of places to stay in the future.

At Middle Falls, we all jumped in. It was beyond frigid, but we felt awfully refreshed once we got out. Only our huge hairy dog stayed in for more than a few minutes, and he actually seemed to enjoy it. He actually came out cleaner than I have possibly ever seen him. There were only a few other people up there, and even fewer who hopped in. My dog swam out to rescue them, even though none needed or desired to be rescued by a 120 pound beast. We saw one testosterone fueled teenage boy jump from a rocky cliff side halfway up the falls and land less than gracefully in the icy pool. Luckily, he did not injure or kill himself which would have ruined a perfectly good day for everyone around. The sun was high in the sky at this point, and we could tell the big dog wasn't going to enjoy hiking another few miles round trip to see the upper falls, so we headed back, again stopping along the way. Back at the car, we were able to drive to within a short walking distance to the upper falls- more gorgeousness.

The lovely day was topped off by cheeseburgers and fries at the Burger Barn in Dunsmuir. They probably had three times the amount of calories we burned on the hike, but were mighty tasty in any case.

All in all, we had a wonderful day at the beautiful falls where the salmon turn back.