Thursday, July 30, 2009

My two loves

Food and knitting, my two great non-human loves, have finally joined forces to overwhelm the world with cuteness. Sorry about the photo quality - I snapped these with the webcam - but I don't think you'll be able to resist.
I give you Aubergine and Carrot, from Hansi Singh's Amigurumi Knits. The book was a gift from Wendy, and I can't get enough of these fluffy little summer projects.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Recipe of the day: Key Lime Vinaigrette

I love to cook. I can be imaginative, but I usually find myself riffing off someone else's recipe. Tonight was a rare exception: I had a bottle of key lime juice in the pantry thanks to Melanie, a request from Josh for a cold salad dinner, and a lot of time to think about it.

What came out was a barbecue chicken salad made with breast meat, homemade bbq sauce from the fridge, and some pantry staples, and then the main course: a whole wheat couscous salad with green beans, tomato, cucumber (thanks, Nadine!), red pepper, onion, cilantro, canned beans, and a delectable key lime vinaigrette. Throw some ingredients into the bowl, Internet, and mix this generously throughout - you won't be disappointed.

Key Lime Vinaigrette - Emily's Own!

1/2c olive oil
1/2c key lime juice
3 cloves garlic, minced
1-3 tsp. agave nectar, to taste
1 tsp. ground cumin
1/4 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. pepper, or more to taste

Combine all ingredients in a tall, narrow container and blend with stick blender. Taste and adjust acid/sugar balance; season as desired. Drizzle over absolutely everything, and send royalties to emilymsullins at gmail dot com.

P.S. I know that a 1:1 oil to acid ratio is unusual, and in fact I started with 2:1. But the acid in key lime juice is pretty subtle and I just kept adding more until the ratio was about even, and it was delicious. I WALK ON THE WILD SIDE.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Miracles redux

So I was just sitting in my humid, un-air-conditioned living room (it's broken and I'm waiting for a call back) sweating and cursing this incredibly loud cicada who had perched on the wall outside. This was one horny buggie, chirping so loudly that I actually considered shutting the window and the airflow, just to get some peace. And then, mid-chirp - and can I just say that they should have another word like SCREAM because that is not some measly chirp - a bird flew in front of the window and gobbled it up!

Crows: 1. Cicadas: 0. My ears? Magnificent.


We arrived in Yokosuka last night around 7:00, home by 7:45 and in bed not long after that. We'd been traveling for twenty hours including a nine and a half hour flight, two buses, a taxi, a friend's car, and last of all the QE2. We both slept well until about 4:00 this morning, and I've been catching up on the Internet and tidying up ever since.

About those miracles, though: it's like a miracle to come home after a long trip. I didn't see much of the house last night, but just sleeping in the A/C next to my husband, in our bed, was heaven. This morning I've just been opening cabinets and drawers and running my fingers over our things, in awe. Nearly every single thing in this house is something Josh, I, or we wanted and got, or were given in love from someone dear to us. Other people's dear things have been a great comfort to both of us during our travels, but nothing compares to home. Even when it's so far away from home.

Still, we need bread and milk and vegetables, an A/C unit is malfunctioning and it seems the rainy season has not been good for some of my plants - despite Kelsey's valiant efforts! I'm off to tackle some of those pesky chores today, and likely fall back into bed not long after 8:00 again.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Homeward Bound

Hey y'all,

We're on our way home. This has been a crazy trip - busy, good and bad. We're so indebted to everyone for looking after us on the way, and we're sad to leave. But Josh can see, and we've got some whole wheat pasta in the suitcase, so the trip was a success. We get in on Thursday, Japan time, and I'll try to be more attentive shortly thereafter.

P.S. I can't believe I'm going back to an Ivy-free Japan. C'est la Navy. :(

Saturday, July 18, 2009


He can see!

I was waiting to post until I could upload a few pics of Josh with his shades on, or seeing things sans glasses for the first time, but I've been torturing everyone by not posting.

Josh's PRK surgery was a success (so far), with a super easy and painless procedure followed by about twenty hours of sleep. He's a little sore now, using drops every 30 minutes when he's awake, and taking a fair amount of ibuprofen and Percocet.

The procedure is really remarkable - the lights from the laser were all blurry, then it did its thing, and immediately he could see it perfectly. The docs are hopeful for 20/20 vision or better, and he should be pretty well recovered in a couple days.

You can go ahead and keep those fingers crossed for a safe - albeit dry and uncomfortable - plane ride to Tokyo on Wednesday. And wish me luck now that I can't hide his glasses and do whatever I want while he can't see.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Fingers crossed!

and four-leaf clovers and brilliant, careful doctors. Josh is having PRK surgery in the morning, which should correct his vision after decades of glasses. The risks are pretty minimal - they do dozens of these per week - but it's still surgery, and I'll be happy when it's over. Fingers crossed!

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Chilly Cali

I haven't even been in California for almost a week, but I can't stop thinking about it. Having a friend like Melanie is one of those gifts in life, the ones you know you don't deserve but can't imagine living without, like electricity, or Democrat parents. Ha! Seriously, I love that girl so much, and we had a great time every single day.

Here are some shots from my last day in Marina, last Wednesday. Mel and I bundled up the baby and headed for the famous Pebble Beach drive, a little less than an hour from her house. First, two pics from my "don't drop him!" series.
These were taken at the Lone Cypress, the symbol of Pebble Beach. It's several hundred years old, and gorgeous.Thanks, random German tourists, for capturing the shot!

A little further down we found a harem of seals (yes! it's called a harem!), lounging on the beach and rocks. They cracked us up.

And in a matter of moments, everybody on the beach decided to cool off in the surf for a bit. SPLASH!

You may notice we had lots of time to take pretty pictures and enjoy the scenery. This was due to Melanie's incredibly consciencious son Nason, who slept through the entire ride. He missed the seals, but the ladies got to talk and enjoy the ride, instead of switching off sitting in the back and singing while getting motion sickness. Thanks fella!

After the drive we stopped in Carmel for lunch, where we had California in a nutshell: roasted garlic, goat cheese, olives, and an artichoke. No wine, alas, but the food was fantastic. Nason even got to eat - another bottle! He's a champ, switching between nursing and bottlefeeding beautifully.Mel got to handle one of those less-glamorous parts of motherhood while I finished up the food.By the end of the day, we were all tuckered out. We managed to rally for a nice dinner in Monterey, though. Whoops! I mean:
Now I'm in Washington, loving my in-laws' and friends' hospitality, recovering from an unexpected Pacific Northwest sunburn, and counting down to Josh's laser surgery. More photos and stories, I promise. Until then, cute:

The Left Coast

I know, I know! I need to blog. But I've been having so much fun over here in California and Washington that I can't seem to find time to write. Today I'm going to hot springs with my buddy Christie, and I'll have the camera. Promise to write more later, if I'm not collapsed into a pile of relaxed goo. So...not much chance I'll actually write...awkward.

I'll do my best though. Here's some cute to tide you over.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Bye for now

Internet, I have so much to tell you about. It's my last day in California and I have had such a great time with the Valles - there have been beach walks and long drives, French toast and Lebanese dinners, big laughs and midnight meltdowns. But before I get to all of that, I need to say goodbye (for now) to a couple of dear friends. The Ivys, our sponsors and friends for the last year, are leaving Japan and the Navy to start a new life in Texas, and we are going to miss them so much!

Beth, Alex, Hannah, and Faith welcomed us to Japan on August 1, 2008, at the Navy Lodge. They came bearing a laundry basket full of snacks and supplies for our stay, took us out to dinner, and lent us their bikes for a few weeks. Even before all that they'd been answering our questions, making our reservations for the bus from the airport, and just generally helping us stay sane during that crazy move.
Once we settled in, though, was when the good times really began. There have been dinners and trips to Ikea, there have been long talks over coffee and knitting, there was a sleepover and even karaoke. Beth and I have spent quiet hours on my couch or hers, talking about marriage, children, love, God, feminism, sex, faith, and how to make the most of our Japanese lives. Our two families really connected over this past year, and their absence will be a void when I return.

Last Wednesday, a few hours before I headed out to the airport, Beth met me on base for one more cup of coffee and a chat. I think it was good for both of us that I went on vacation - we didn't have to say goodbye forever, just a few weeks! even though we both knew better. The Ivys have touched my life and I know we'll see each other soon, even if soon means when those little girls are teetering around in high heels and worrying about the SATs. Love and light will follow all four of them, I know.

Monday, July 6, 2009

Attention: ladies of the Bay Area

I am here to inform you that the two men pictured below are, in fact, single:Pay no attention to the lady with the baby. No need to worry about her right now. But the fellas? Good with kids!
Quote from Hang: "That's the most dangerous game I ever played. The kid has a floppy neck and a dad in the Navy."
And what need I say about Abe? Suave, even when pushing someone else's stroller.

I give you the least-nerdy nerd reunion ever. Abe, Hang, Melanie and I were among a group of about twelve in AP Calculus, nine years ago, at Coral Shores High School (go, whatever our mascot was!). We all had to work together to pass the AP exam, by which I mean Abe and Hang had to help us learn and we had to put up with their rolling their eyes so hard they sprained them. HA! But we all made it, then went to college and lost touch. Mel and Hang reconnected years ago, and this week it happened that we were all within a hundred miles of one another, so we met in the middle for lunch and a reunion. And we had such. a great. time.Mel and I drove to Santa Cruz from Monterey, with baby Nason, and Abe and Hang each drove from Mountain View, where they live less than a mile apart. But they didn't know this until today! Mission accomplished. We walked about ten blocks to Saturn Cafe, a great vegetarian restaurant where salads, fries, pad thai, and many veggie burgers were had. The guys gallantly fought over who got to pay for lunch. Since they were the only ones at the table with, you know, jobs, Mel and I demurely averted our eyes. Even Nason got a snack, and I'm sure the nursing baby didn't make the guys uncomfortable at all. No problem.
Then, because life is awesome, my flip flop broke and I had to walk barefoot to a shoe store. So if you're wondering why anyone would Google "is it possible to get chlamydia of the foot," now you know. But I bought new flip flops and we headed to the gorgeous boardwalk and seaside, schlepped the stroller across the sand, and enjoyed the sunny weather.
Abe and Mel had shaved ice, but I was too cold for that.

It was really incredible catching up for an afternoon. Mel is really the only Coral Shores friend I keep up with, other than the odd Facebook update. Hang and Abe are both in the tech industry, doing great, and seemed so different than my memories from a decade ago. I wonder how different I seemed to them - if, like them in my eyes, I seem more at ease in my skin, happier, softer around what used to be some harsh edges, and altogether wonderful. I hope so. It's funny about getting older. I can see in the photos how my looks have changed, but I forget how much growing up I did in college and beyond. How sure I was of, oh, everything in high school, and how this lifelong march toward loving moderation has progressed.

I guess all there is left to say is that I could have hoped that these old friends could be good friends again, years later, but I wouldn't have put money on it. What a gift, and I hope we can shorten the distance between this visit and the next.

Well, this about sums it up

U-S-A! U-S-A!

Y'all, it is good to be home on the Fourth of July. (Funny how the entire United States is 'home,' now, isn't it?) There were sparklers, there were meats on the grill, there were slaws and beers and party games. And this morning, I wore my pajamas to the coffee shop. USA!

I'm having a great time visiting Melanie, Tony, and baby Nason in northern California. They are such a beautiful family, and the baby fits right in. Check it out:
Melanie and I met when we were sixteen and I moved to Key Largo from Maine (eek!). We hit it off immediately, and spent our high school years doing Calculus and History projects together, playing designated driver for some of our friends, and trying like heck to get boys' attention. One of those boys was Tony Valle, who became Mr. Melanie a couple years ago, and one of my dear friends to boot. Mel and I were each others' maids of honor, and planned to have our kids at the same time and try to make the Navy station us together. So far those last two haven't quite worked out, but we're still hopeful.

Since I arrived we've had two baby-free "dates" - once to the coffee shop and once to the grocery store. Nason will be three months next week, so it's tough to be away for long, but we've had fun! Here's Mel, baby-free for coffee:
and here's me, in heaven in Monterey with a little man snoozing in the carrier.
Nason is unbelievably good-natured. He cries when he wants something - food or to be changed or a bounce on somebody for a while - but the rest of the time he's smiley and burpey and absolutely adorable. And, thanks to his Mommy, I even got to feed him one of his first bottles.Yeah. I make dorky faces.
Now that he's such a big boy, he can alternate bottles with nursing so Mel can be away for a couple hours at a time. We're going to test that theory this week. Maybe kayaking?

Yesterday, for the Fourth, we went to two parties: a big shebang for mostly families with young kids, thrown by Mel and Tony's baby photographer, who spent her toddlerhood in Yokosuka! I had a chat with her mom, Katherine, who lived in Yoko on her own for two years, while her pilot husband worked away from home 85% of the time. No Skype, no email, no overseas phone calls - we are PAMPERED these days. Those women must have been made of steel.

Next was Eric and Jen's soiree, around the corner from Mel and Tony's house. There were about a dozen of us there, and the guys work together, so there were lots of beers and games and laughs flying around over there. Eric is learning Chinese, which is MUCH harder than Japanese - no alphabets! tonality! poor guy - and another friend was visiting from Vegas. The ladies dominated a game of Cranium and the baby fell asleep to the hoots and hollers and sparklers.

What a trip. I miss my husband, who has spent his four-day weekend cleaning our house, and I can't wait to see him next week in Washington. But for now I'm cuddling the baby and loving my friends, and wishing my stay here could be longer.

Friday, July 3, 2009

...and I'm in!

After a ridiculously easy, direct train ride from Yokosuka practically to my gate, then some wine and dinner at Narita, and a plane trip made pleasant by washing down Ambien with more wine, I have arrived on the Monterey peninsula. Melanie, Tony, and baby Nason are lovely, and I'll have lots of pictures soon.

About that Ambien: I'm usually not a medication person. But seriously: coach seats should COME with Ambien. It should be pillow, blanket, sleeping pill. The wine is free on ANA (woot! I never understood why it was free in first class. What do they have to drink about? With the legroom and reclining seats and, you know, wealth) and I just snoozed, watched a movie, and snoozed some more, and I was here before I knew it.

Time to visit and relax and cuddle the baby for a spell. Aaahhhhhh...

Thursday, July 2, 2009

I'm off

for international trip #2 of 2009. The super easy, no-problem train ride commences in a couple hours, followed by a quick hop across the Pacific Ocean. I can't wait to see my girl in the Bay Area!

Catch you soon.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009


The night before the last time I was headed to the airport for a flight to the U.S., I discovered that I was having my third miscarriage, and would be in bad pain and deep sorrow for the following week or so. I was also flying space available, and sending Josh off to go live on a ship on the deep blue sea for a month - so I suppose I need't mention that I was a mess. I leave again tomorrow, a week ahead of Josh, for a West Coast vacation, and I was really looking forward to easy travel this time. We have tickets! On commercial airlines! And people picking us up at the airport and phone lists and rental cars and plans.

Then today happened. So far the bus to the airport filled up within one day, from plenty of seats left to 10 overbooked, and the rental agency finally sent a plumber over to address the leak in one of our walls. To wit:
I took those before he cut giant rectangles out of the sheetrock.

My kitchen cabinets are empty, the pipes are rusted, and it can't be fixed before I leave. We're forbidden the dishwasher, and now I'm on a mission to figure out how on earth to get to the airport by train. Oh, and did I mention I'm saying goodbye to one of my best friends here, who will be moving home to Texas while I'm gone?

Le sigh.