Here’s to more sunshine!

This weeks update of the renovations are looking good as the whole garden is cleared and the windows are out. The only part left is what we are keeping minus the front door, with the neighbourhood cat was enjoying itself in our digs. After all the rain this week we are quite impressed to see the work moving along!

Last week, I was studying away after a hectic couple of weeks of writing assignments and it was time to have a break. This weekend the weather has been stunning, with lots of sunshine! So we enjoyed some family time as we had to pick up a cat tree for a fave feline on the other side of the city. It is so good to have a break and just relax far away from my computer and drive a car to the other side of the city and head to the beach.

There has been a lot going on in life, and I have found it hard to focus on my studies. This week I booked an appointment with my acupuncturist. As my acupuncturist says, humans regularly need a tune up, so I will have to go more often. Now I am feeling so much more centred and relaxed. Each morning, I enjoy some time at the gym and doing weights, classes and cardio so after class I make this delicious matcha hemp protein drink with a spoonful of hemp seed oil to help with body recovery. This one was extra creamy with the addition of raw cashews.

Looking forward to a week off this week and catching up on some uni readings and planning my practicum unit for the end of the year. I have to organise myself, recharge and hit these three units to get them done and dusted.

Our House Build begins

This week the demolition began on our house. We met with our architect and builder on Monday and then our builder got his spray can out all over the house! Today (Saturday) we went to check out the progress, as the demolishers were at the house on Wednesday. So now you just see the frame of the front of the house (this is taken from the alleyway out the back) with a little bit of roof. There is still some more demo work to come next week, and it is very exciting. We will drop by again next weekend, and peek through the back fence to see what is going on as it is not safe for us to be at the site.

The rest of my time this week has been here at my desk studying away writing two papers. A 2500 word essay on socialisation and another 1500 unit plan for English. Man there has been no escape and now I am behind one week in my readings but I will have next week to catch up! I got this great screen to keep me hidden from distractions but still it is really noisy as I am right near the kitchen. The bonus is that I have the fridge right in front of me, which is great! I have had to do hand sewing or knitting. after dinner, as I have been hammered with too much time on the computer – researching, writing and editing. Every morning I have been going to the gym for a bit of stress relief and it really helps with sitting down most of the day – I do not think I could ever do an office job again in my life. Still I am enjoying myself with this B. Ed as it is so comprehensive, as a lot of the theoretical components I can totally relate to. My plants have been keeping me happy at home while I have had to keep my brain focussed with my fave store in Coburg is the health store with their collection of bush flower essences – aaaah, just breathe…

What I have been doing when I have not been studying? My Saturday morning is looking after the chickens at my sons High School. They are so fun as they have a friend, a big black pig called Gigi who always wants to eat everything!! The family enjoyed the antics today when I was feeding the pig, as I was trying not to step in big mud puddles and get some treats to the chickens. I have to plan some strategic moves with distracting the pig, with her treats, when I give some treats to the chickens! And of course, in the evenings making dinner is a little creative outlet where I have been enjoying the tortillas from La Tortilleria – where I found some great videos from them this week. This fish taco is a baked Hoki taco with a zucchini slaw, topped with BBQ sauce – tasty!

So I had better get back to business as my assignments are due Monday and I need to get busy tomorrow!

Vinyl is vinyl

Life has been pretty routine of late. Heading over the gym in the morning and coming home and studying i.e. working all day. I have been slammed with lots of readings and assignments so that has left me zero time to just hang. Still to be productive in study, it is important to carve some time out in your schedule for yourself and sell stuff on FB Marketplace! So in my mission to get rid of stuff in our house I listed all our records online and the posts went crazy, so in honour of our record collection that has been distributed to vinyl collectors around Melbourne – here they are

So the good thing is that I still enjoy a good night out as friend of mine suggested we go out and see Jess Ribero (a very cool Melbourne artist, I must add) at the Northcote Social Club on Friday night. It has been in my diary for months and I was pretty excited to actually go out on the town by myself, we had a great night though we were a bit knackered when it was 12am and time go home 😀 I remember back in the day, that was the time to go out and hit the nightclubs!!

Winter thoughts

The time is slowly approaching and we will have been six months since we have been back home in Australia. Whoa the time has flown by and we finally feel like we have a handle on things. The only variable up in the air in the starting date of our house build and all I can say is that it is going to happen real soon! There have been many learning experiences which we have experienced over the last few months and because it is winter and time to ruminate, here they are:

Eat ramen as much as you can in winter though make sure to blend the shitake mushrooms through for a depth of flavour – oh and I gotta find that Kombu!
  • When moving back to your home country have a bit of a plan about where you will live – lucky we our friend offered their place for house sitting until we decided to move back into our vacant house.
  • When looking for rental properties make sure you check the glass and if it is not double pane, forget it! I know it is hard when looking for places to rent as it has to be the perfect fit but we are freezing here in our place as there are lots of windows in this house built in 1990. It is part of a bunch of cheaply built row houses and man we enjoy the location and get this – the electricity bill for 3 months was $1379!! We blame the electric wall heaters which suck up the power and we have been leaving them on overnight 😦 which is a bit silly.
  • Again this rental has had its issues with replacing the range hood, the oven is bad, the dishwasher is loud, the water heater had to be replaced and we were without hot water for two days, the water pressure is terrible when you have a shower and are doing the washing at the same time, the curtains need an extra layer to keep the cold out and the doors and windows are not sealed properly, so the wind blows in (I have made door snakes!). Still it is a house with space which is what we were looking for and we will make the most of it. This is an experience and we are noting all these problems so when our house is built we will make sure that these problems do not exist!
  • Watch for stupid laws like no animals at rentals, apparently the laws in Victoria have changed and a landlord cannot deny you without a great excuse but still we had it good in California at the fancy rental haven of Central Park with our pets.
  • Make sure everything you need is in walking/PT distance – I still do not have a car but I borrow them or catch an Uber which works but I am sure that the money is adding up for each trip. The problem I find with that is that it all takes time and that time cannot be reimbursed, therefore I lose valuable study/work time.
  • My study zone is now in the dining room right by a massive window which leads to the courtyard and it is freezing so I have had to add another curtain to the existing to keep the cold out – the landlord refuses to listen to our complaints of the broken curtain mechanism? When we were landlords we happily helped out our tenants with any problem but it seems that this guy is a tight arse, at over $600 a week he should be laughing to the bank.
  • I am grateful that we are close to school and the kids can walk, I can walk to the gym and I have found some cool classes to go to – I love my weights workout and running 5kms on the cross trainer (who knew I could run!!), the library is close, Office works has 8 cent copies for Uni printouts – which is a walk or $10 Uber ride away, we have the best felafel down the road, I love our new community, Aussies are so friendly and helpful, there is a super cool bike path by the creek or the railway line that goes for kilometres, I have some amazing local nurseries just a walk away, I found a happy place to volunteer at the community nursery, we get to look after chickens and a beautiful pig named Gigi, chickens are at school and the community garden and in general life is good and we are happy back in Melbourne.
  • Oh and patience is everything and if Plan A does not work out – be ready with Plan B.

I enjoy walking around the streets to explore because that is how I experience a city that I visit or live. And yesterday I got stuck on one side of the tracks because the train was coming so I decided rather than wait I will go up the path. So what did I find? Some street art, a community garden by the railway tracks and a cute little book library. I was on a mission to Office works so I stopped at the local cafe Eighth Nerve and enjoyed an amazing coffee – that is one thing to appreciate about being back here, the coffee is amazing and made with local almond milk!

I also know that living in Melbourne in winter it is damn cold but thank goodness for my knitting skills I am snug as a bug – when going outside I always wear a knitted hat, have my gloves on standby and wear a coat and you will be comfortable (just watch out for that wind!!) Overall I reckon the move back has been a struggle for all of us as we miss our friends in California and the amazing weather over there but that was a wonderful growth experience and now we are ready for our next phase in life. I promise we will really appreciate our new house when it is built 😀

Winter holiday in Queensland :: it’s a wrap!

For the last couple of days we enjoyed some cousin time with making some Legos and hanging out together. It had to be a low key experience as my nephew, just had an operation of getting his adenoids and tonsils out – so he was in recovery mode. This was fine with us and we enjoyed some downtime over lunch and cups of tea.

Our last day at the Sunshine Coast was spent climbing walls at Rockit climbing gym where I managed to get pretty high for someone scared of heights! We did auto belays which is so fun as you just drop to the ground gradually, though my landings were not as graceful as the kids. I reckon we will be doing more climbing after this experience – there are no pics unfortunately as everything had to be put away safely including jewellery. Afterwards we were starving after using so much energy to climb, so we went to Mint for a lovely lunch and some treats – check out this cabinet of goodness!

Later in the arvo it was time to head on over to the airport and after a quick walk by the ocean to say farewell to our relaxing time away. Where at night I got to watch Stranger Things 3 on my little biddy phone screen enjoying the soundtrack on my headphones! Here we are leaving the Sunny Coast at sunset and arriving Melbourne later that evening.

Winter holiday in Queensland :: Peregian Beach

After the rainy days we were rewarded with a gorgeous sunny Sunday which was too good to stay inside, so I said to the kids let’s go to the beach! We made it to Peregian Beach – a place where I used to live years and years ago as an art student. I love it there and remember the afternoons after my days at school I would come home and go for long walks along the beach to watch the sunsets – it was so special. The beach there is stunning and I found it very upmarket these days with an incredible bakery and a fave shop selling mid century furniture and artwork midmodoz. Unfortunately I cannot purchase anything as I have no idea what we need for our new house as yet! I did love the artwork above and a patio setting, so I went in and chatted to the owner and she said you should see the warehouse 😀 Yes please!!

Later that day we met some friends and took a walk up Mt Ninderry – a hike recommended by our Air Bnb host. It was absolutely stunning from way up high and we enjoyed the scenery as we wandered along the track, there were so many rocks formations and flora to admire.

From way up high we saw Mt Coolum, where we hiked the day before as one of the many vistas you could capture from the top of the mountain. I loved the ferns and the rocks, the mushrooms and this amazing fan leaf palm as we were going back to the car. It was such a beautiful, relaxed hike and way easier than Mt Coolum even though it was that little bit higher at 304 metres.

Winter holiday in Queensland – Part 2 :: Coolum

Part two of our holiday in Queensland was up the Sunshine coast – this is my happy place, a place so relaxing with the most gorgeous beaches and delicious food. We drove up from my parents place and then arrived just in time for lunch where we found New Earth cafe with delicious creations like this hot chocolate and vegan caramel slice – so tasty. Then as soon as it was time to check in we drove on over to our Air Bnb at Mt Coolum, so beautiful.

The first day at our mini vacay up the Sunshine Coast was to get outside and enjoy some hiking, so as we were close to Mt Coolum we put on our trainers and wandered up and up and up to the top – 208 metres above sea level. It was an excellent cardio workout going up all the stairs but there are some sketchy areas where you have to be careful where you are putting your feet because when you look down it is a long way to the bottom!

The views up top were just incredible but as the weather was still a little grey and the rain clouds were coming in which made the winds very gusty – my crazy hair can attest to that! The kids were very excited to meet an endangered tree that is endemic to Mt Coolum called the She Oak – pictured up the top left. On the way down we wandered the pathway using those thigh muscles to keep balance – thank goodness for my time at the gym I say!

And here is a panorama of the sea with those billowing grey clouds up high ready to rain on us any minute!!

After our hike up to the top of the mountain we wanted to enjoy some beach time but the surf was wicked, grey and very rough plus we got rained on! So we cancelled that idea and decided to enjoy an indoor activity.

Oh yay! We drove less than 30 minutes south to play mini golf inside. Something that we have not experienced since our time in California when I used to take Ash to play when he had a day off school. In California, we enjoyed the sunshine and hit around the little ball until the end of the course – sometimes taking ages. This course was only 9 holes and here are a couple of our faves with their references to California – west side, yay!

From behind our beautiful little studio Air Bnb we enjoyed a quiet private spot where I could enjoy some Qi Gong outside in the mornings. Where one morning I was out there in the sunshine and enjoying the bird sounds when this mama Brahminy Kite delivered some treats to her little ones up to her nest high at the top of the pine tree. Later that morning we enjoyed Otis the super friendly golden retriever in our pad for some quiet time and lots of pats.

Winter holiday in Queensland – Part 1

Winter break and it was time to head on up to Queensland to get some sunshine and maybe if you dare a bit of a swim! We stayed at this lovely Air Bnb near my families house and enjoyed some peaceful times by the pool watching the birds come and visit every day.

This little fella had a couple of other mates who came by to visit each day. I love magpies so much and their morning song reminds me that I am home again.

The kiddos really were a bit excited about having a pool where we were staying so they braved the chilly water and hopped on in when it was nice and sunny – which was most of the time.

We spent some lovely days with my mum and dad and went down to the beach for fish and chips at Suttons Beach. The kiddos love going there to collect hermit crabs and then they build them little homes out of sand.

We were in an area that I was not really familiar with even though I went to primary school down the road. Behind where we were staying were many new developments and the urban planning has included many parks within 15 minutes of where we stayed. I enjoyed walking around discovering new places for the kids to play on and this obstacle course was the perfect spot for challenging their times on how quick they can get across. Afterwards we found this interactive fountain and the kiddos got drenched on a winters afternoon!

The afternoons for me were spent by the pool knitting a scarf with the beautiful yarn I scored in Sydney – this is Hedgehog fibres yarn with a pattern with intentional holes. It was so relaxing to sit by the pool and listen to my audio book and watch the birds fly home for the evening.

A mama getaway to Sydney

Last week I took the chance to have some Mama time off as Uni was out for a break and I had some time in between the kids going on holiday! My hubby wanted me to go for a break, as I was alone with the kids as we were settling back into Australia last year. I have to say it has been a full on 6 months with relocating home, moving house and constantly clearing out our belongings. We had the last of it – 8 boxes, taken away by the Brotherhood of St Laurence last Tuesday. I hope it goes to help some families in need.

Well back to my mini Mama vacay away to Sydney. I have not been to Sydney for about 15 years – I reckon the last time I was there I was with my boyfriend (now hubby) hanging out with his friend in Surry Hills. This time I was travelling solo in Surry Hills at this super cool pad for a couple with the most amazing shower! The neighbourhood felt super safe as it is right next to Oxford Street the home of the Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras parade, being a “gaybourhood” as a solo traveller it was a good place to be. The supermarket was full of hot gay men shopping and as I bought my breakfast goodies I enjoyed the dance music playing in the background.

My first stop when I landed was the train and it took 18 minutes to get from the airport to Central station where I had to drop off my bag using the most excellent porter service at $8 a day – Bag Bnb you can instal the app on your phone and book your bag at an “Angel” which is usually a local hotel (the one I used had a 24 hour reception) and it was so easy.

After saying farewell to my bag for a few hours I grabbed my camera and had a tasty Bahn mi (kick arse Vietnamese in Sydney!!)for lunch and took the train to Circular Quay to go on a tour of the Sydney Opera House. From the many times I have come back to Australia in the last 12 years I would see the Harbour Bridge and the Opera House from the sky and know these great icons of Australia but I have never enjoyed them in real life. So my plan was to experience the Opera House inside and out as my thoughts were, “How could I afford a show there?” But as it turns out the Opera house has many theatres and shows and they run them simultaneously. Therefore, the price point of tickets depends on the show and the theatre it is playing in, for example, there is a theatre with 300 seats which was playing Thrones – a comedy parody about the Game of Thrones. While I was there, I wanted to go and see Bangarra Dance Theatre and their tickets started at $80 for a 2 hour show – unfortunately I ran out of time and could not make it! I have not seen any of their shows for a while, so I think that will have to go on my Things to Do list now that I am home.

There were so many interesting facts that I learnt about the Sydney Opera House expertly explained by our tour guide Alexander who was excellent and oh so funny! At the opera house, I loved the tile roof – a triple glazed tile so that the roof cleans itself when it rains, and the glass that captures the many reflections including the Harbour Bridge when you look up! The interior is spectacular with wood, concrete and steel – where kids who have visited said it looks like whale baleen.

After my tour I took advantage of the sunshine and blue sky and hopped aboard the Fast Ferry to Manly, its $10 each way but if you get your Opal card for the Sydney transit network it is all good to go! And boy it was worth it just to see the icons of Australia in the perfect shot! Arriving at Manly there’s plenty of places to eat and enjoy including ice cream – yummo! But as I had eaten I took a walk through the streets of the town up to little place on the top of the point called Peace Park, it was somewhere I needed to be that day and enjoyed the lookout onto the horizon and the deep blue sea. As I was walking, I was loving the plants and gardens as my favourite tropicals are on show here in New South Wales with the hibiscus, the umbrella plant, the bird of paradise and so many other beauties that reminded me of growing up in Queensland.

The reason I chose Sydney as my destination was the Akira Isogawa exhibition that is on the Powerhouse Museum until 30 June. Many moons ago as I was leaving Melbourne for San Francisco and that was the last exhibit I saw of Akira’s clothes at RMIT in the city, I have been a long standing fan of his work. The museum had a volunteer to take me around the exhibition and explain to me the collaborations and techniques in his work. I was the only one on the tour and really enjoyed the dialogue and the back story about this exhibition. I have come back inspired to get into some sewing and maybe try my hand at a bit of shibori sewing knots, like the black and red tunic above. My take away from the show is that his focus is on the pattern and design not about the finishing of the neckline. This has always bothered me when designing, and I have learnt it is good to keep it simple when your focus is on pattern and interesting design techniques.

After the exhibition my friend had told me about the Craft and Quilt Fair at the Exhibition Centre spread over two halls. I got to see Boro kimono which is in the first picture from Tohoku “snow country” in the Aomori Prefecture, was synonymous to most Japanese with dire poverty. The villagers created the textile aesthetic out of boro, mere “rags” making their clothes and lining them with woven hemp to create warmth they layered the scratchy hemp together by stitching found textiles layer upon layer – info from Amuse Museum, Japan.

From there – the fave craft of the show were Shibori stitching kits. These kits have the pattern drawn onto beautiful Japanese cotton or linen. Using this template you then choose fabric to incorporate into the design and use floss, perle cotton or whatever threads you are used to to outline the pattern. I have minimal time so I grabbed a business card for these little projects and ran past all the fabric displays (I already have a stash in my garage) and was on a mission to find stockists of my fave yarn Malabrigo! Lucky for me I found Hedgehog Fibres, after ages of coveting the yarn on Ravelry. In the end I came out of the show with 2 skeins of yarn for a couple of projects – one being an infinity scarf using the Hedgehog sock weight. I found an amazing yarn store Yarn Glorious Yarn in Taringa, Brisbane who stocks all my yarn faves Malabrigo, Noro, Hedgehog and Madeline Tosh and thank goodness for their online shop for when I need to refill my stash. The final pic is where I have one skin of Malabrigo in my handbag and the other Hedgehog sock yarn in the small shopping bag plus a metre of Japanese cat fabric for my daughter, a merino woven scarf, some multi coloured embroidery thread for fabric beads I am making and that was it. It was such a dangerous place for a crafter to go to and not be tempted to buy anything :D.

I have to say the food I sourced in Sydney was divine! I made sure I went to vegan restaurants so I could really enjoy everything on the menu. The first night I was a bit knackered so I went to Japanese and ate sashimi as recommended by my Air Bnb host which was a treat! The next night I tried vegan Mexican at Bad Hombres Good Food and sat at the bar at the booked out restaurant and enjoyed chatting to the manager and the incredible staff – a bunch of cool folks from South America. Oh and I did find another Sydney brewed Booch at this restaurant that I took home and enjoyed in the funky designer kitchen. The creme brulee was just amazing made from coconut cream and the margarita with jalapeno reminded me of California! I have to say the crispy eggplant tacos with pineapple habanero salsa and miso caramel was a taste sensation – find the pics on my Insta page to the right. And my final dinner in Sydney was at Yullis – again a popular booked out restaurant which was all vegan! As it was just me dining solo I managed to get a spot at the bar to enjoy all the delights including vegan meringue with berries for dessert. I loved their home brewed Kombucha and noticed that they have a vegan BBQ at their Alexandria location – next time Sydney, its a date!

I did spend time on Friday with my long lost friend Mel who I have not seen in around 10 years and had a delicious lunch at her fave coffee cafe called Morning Owl in Auburn. The food there was so good and we enjoyed coffee, tea and our lunches over catching up. It is funny there are friends in your life who when you leave and come back to it is just like yesterday that you left. I have a picture but that is for us as it has one of her beautiful boys in the pic and I will have to ask her permission to post it first.

Saturday was my last day and I checked out of my Air Bnb and wandered to the Glebe markets and hung out in Glebe and walked back to get my luggage through Haymarket. The markets were very hip and hippy and I was not in the mood to dig through peoples piles of clothes as I have recently gone through my own! I am a bit of a fan of a curated vintage collection where I found at the Works Showroom just down the road, who sold many indoor plants as well! My lunch was at Cafe Shenkin an Israeli menu where I enjoyed a avocado felafel with poached egg, mushrooms and Israeli salad and it was the perfect farewell to Sydney. Sydney was an enjoyable foodie, cultural experience – I love being home and this is where Australia shines with so many cultures living and eating together in harmony, and I cannot wait to explore more in the future!