The final countdown

The countdown is upon us and each day is flying by so quickly. I am in such an emotional rollercoaster at the moment as I am so happy to be going back to Melbourne but very sad to be leaving so many cool peeps. But the good thing is I will be home! There are going to be some huge hurdles, especially with everything plus study. My major problem at the moment is finding a rental property in Melbourne where we are remodelling so its easy for the kids to get to school. I am manifesting a lovely place close to the schools where we can walk to easily and has great access to the shops as I will not be getting a car as yet. Having to start all over again is not a very exciting prospect but it is going to be another adventure in the kids’ lives and for me, I will be so happy to be back in Australia. California has been a fun place to live but I am so ready to be with my family again. There are friends here who feel like family which is wonderful. I have really missed being with my family and sharing special times over the last 12 years, it is going to be so good to reconnect again. 

At the end of last week, my friends organised a farewell party with some incredible food and an 80s dance party complete with my friend DJ/VJ Nik. We had such a fun time together dancing to many 1980s songs, dressed in our 80s outfits, after we had filled our bellies with some delicious Indian food – I mean look at that amazing table of delicacies!! We have known each other since the kids were preschoolers so it was such a special way to say farewell and I am sure our crew of travellers will come and visit down under one day. I am so grateful for having such thoughtful and special friends. As part Sri Lankan I am an honorary member of the crew – we have always enjoyed going out for birthday dinners and have shared many a delicious cocktail together. I will miss each and everyone! 

My house is looking very bare with all the pictures taken down and now I am ready to pack my bags. The fridge is white again after I took all my magnets off and the furniture is being slowly given away on NextDoor. The study with all my craft/study/books in it is being slowly whittled away as it has been so hard to give away fabric and all my craft stuff but I think, “would I make something out of this in the next 2 years?” So the usual answer is, “Maybe not!”

Managing time will be interesting next year especially the beginning of the year with the two kids, me and study. Looking for a rental will be high on the agenda and once that is done I can hopefully fit in time to write my essay due on the 14th January (I have to get my head into being in the same time zone!). I am going to take a bit of a break this weekend and go visit friends in Portland!! My whole being has been swept away into organising, giving away, moving stuff on, cleaning out and finally going to Hope Services to donate boxes of our stuff. I still have the plants to give away but I can leave some jobs for my hubby – I need to concentrate on organising the bits that I want to take with us and hopefully it will fit in the house. But the plan is to make the study into a room so movers can come in and put it into boxes. Then they will send it away on the $6K container to travel to Melbourne. The cat now has her import permit but has about 7 more steps to follow with the Australian Government rules on bringing her back to the country, my hubby’s job. I think once I have gone through this sweep of cleaning the study this will be it. After Portland, it will be serious business of getting stuff into my cases to take with me to live out of for the next 5 months or so which means there definitely needs to be a coat in there with Melbourne’s weather. Currently, it is summer and pouring with rain. 

Oh, and it is Christmas too very soon but that is something that the family has to forgive me for as this whole move is taking up most of my thoughts and energy. So I do not think Santa will be bringing stuff into this house this year – our gifts are the experience of flying away direct for 15 hours direct to our home city. Friends have told me that I am brave to be doing this but even though I have called California home for the last 12 years, your home will always be where your heart is. And my heart is back in Australia. 

The excitement of remodelling our house is happening in 2019 as well but I will think about the first step of getting back first, settling down and then school for the kids. After all that, the build will start and I absolutely love the design of the house it will be amazing to actually have a comfortable house to live in. Where we are now there is no insulation so we wear coats in the house in the winter and its like having air con inside in the summer. I have really enjoyed this house, but to live in a house that the whole family has their own space with a place we can entertain with the open plan living we always dreamed of will be a reality is very exciting. I am also imagining the chickens in the garden and the cats (the kids and I hope to adopt more cats!) around the place and having a BBQ (I never BBQ as I am a vegetarian!) with some wine and friends, just like here. It will be good to be back again, who knows what else the future will hold? I feel I will be truly happy again. 

A week full of farewells

What a week it has been, there has been so much happening and it is only the first week of December. I have ridden the emotional rollercoaster of saying goodbye to the friends I have met here. Thinking about my time here when I knew no one at the beginning of our time here to now where I have had celebrations from Saturday with friends. To saying farewell to a week of many lasts – I did my last sewing workshop at the local library to the hardest being my last class of teaching sewing to the kiddos at our amazing school community. The picture above is artwork gifted to me from a friend in my dance class saying we are just a straight line away! 

Last week I did a tote bag workshop at the library with my friend G who will be taking over the class from me. I am so happy to have her taking over as she is so creative and will have some fabulous projects in the future. We also did the felt ornaments workshop last Monday and that was a fun one with all of these beautiful ornaments the library community made. 

It was so hard to keep it together for my final Arts Focus class yesterday as I have been involved with the program for the 9 years we have been at our school. It is such an incredible program run by parent volunteers who teach different classes of 27 Kinder to 5th-grade kids. I feel this program is what motivated me to start my teaching degree which I totally love. Our community project of the quilt is super cool and the kids are given the opportunity to buy it at the silent auction. The LED cuff in the centre was made by a Kinder with thanks to a new teacher and volunteer who helped make it happen. Yesterday with the last class I made a video of the pipe cleaner dolls with a cool projector and tablet straight to the massive LCD TV in the classroom so the kids could see what was happening – I just love the technology. It works so well as I am about to hand in two video resources for my assignment that I made for the Australian Curriculum for digital technology and design and technology for the subject Teaching Science and Technology. I am always amazed at what the kids make and how creative they are, with this experience I have a feeling that this is something that I will want to do once I graduate. 

I also said goodbye to my friends at Top Hair and Nail – a sanctuary where I go to for some pampering and relaxation. Here is my cool hairdresser Toy and there I am out with my new do at a bar on Thursday night celebrating our first session of Arts Focus for the school year and my final session for Arts Focus, so sad but I am also happy for the kids who had sewing with me and how much fun we had together. 

The bittersweet emotion that is manifesting from the move home to Australia is intense but I feel that we are connected to each other by our little machines and we can always see what we are all up to. My good friend in Melbourne mentioned that I will keep in touch with my peeps even though we will be so far away and with some luck, we will have visitors coming to Melbourne to say hello! I have been crying so much and feel a deep love for the community I have built here and saying farewell is way better than saying goodbye. I have received so many beautiful comments from my friends here and it will be strange not to be living in the Valley but now it is time to write a new chapter of our life with our family. 

What does this yellow bench represent? Well, the remodel of our yellow and blue house in Melbourne. It is getting there as we spoke to our architect and the structural engineer is working on the plans and then tendering for a builder will happen in February and here’s to a smooth transition to build phase and the building can start in March/April. For now, the interior scheme is wonderful with a garden that reflects our being with fluffy native grasses and an entertainment area. So with all that planning underway I will wait patiently and be ready for the next phase of the building – yippee!

But first, the big move to Australia and a rental property for the next 12 months, then get the kids settled into the school (which I am sure they will love) and for me studying in the background and recreating a network. It is quite overwhelming but I am breaking the to do list down and this weekend I need to start packing for the summer and the next 4 months until our stuff arrives. Currently, the Melbourne weather is 36 degrees Celsius (96.8 degrees F), its gonna be hot – I cannot forget the swimsuit!! 

Food In LA and Good Times

The best papusa at Saritas at Grand Central Market
Thanksgiving with our friends in O-town
Calligraphy
Matcha Latte in SLO
Inspiration by Murakami
Vegetarian Sushi on Sunset
Sunset at Echo Park Lake
Swan on Echo Park Lake
Exercise with the Swan
Beautiful Coral bark tree
Yayoi Kusama at The Broad
Latte at Grand Central Market
G&B Menu 
Inside G&B Menu
Finally made it to Grand Central Market
Outside little pine – Moby’s vegan restaurant
little pine – a beautiful vegan restaurant
Dessert with praline at little pine
Gingerbread cheesecake at little pine
Dear animals at little pine
little pine vegan menu
Guisado’s tacos
Palm trees on the Hollywood trail
History of okonomiyaki
Okonomiyaki on the hotplate in Little Tokyo
Artwork in Silver Lake
Fam Bam at our friends pad
Avocado toast at Paso Robles
Walt Disney concert hall

A Few Days in LA

For our last family adventure in California, we did a road trip to LA to see what we could find. The itinerary was influenced by the film La La Land and advice from friends about where to go, what to eat and what to check out. 

We decided to do the scenic route on the 101 to find places to stop off and stretch our legs and have a break. The first stop was Paso Robles for lunch and we found this great spot called Brunch where I found some delicious avocado toast with sprouts and balsamic, it was so good. At this cafe, we also bought some treats from the attached cheese shop with a salted baguette made by a local baker and local cheese to take to our friend’s house in LA. 

Saturday: We arrived in LA and visited some friends of ours who moved away from the Bay and enjoyed some time with them and had dinner together – it was so good to catch up! Later we checked into our Air Bnb the Habana Hut in Silver Lake and enjoyed a good nights sleep in a gorgeous spot high on a hill.

Sunday: Waking up the next morning we wandered down to the local 365 by Whole Foods Market to get supplies and have breakfast – just a walk away. In the afternoon we took a Lyft over to Little Tokyo in downtown LA for the kids to check out the fun stuff. I have never seen so many Pusheens in my life! While we were there we got into The Geffen Contemporary at MOCA for free admission on the weekend, so it was a great score. The gallery Space was incredible and I loved the artwork, the rest of the family was a bit undecided as they were saying how is this art? For me, I have been suffering from a huge lack of culture and art so this was super exciting for me that I was chatting to all the staff about the art pieces and the artists. 

Monday: Our plan for was to hike to the Hollywood sign and the kids really did not want to do an 8-mile hike so I did a bit of research and we started the hike from the Charlie Turner Trailhead at the Griffith Observatory car park and we did about 2.5 miles in and out as the kids were bored. The track was lovely and wide but take a hat and a snack as the whole trail is exposed, in the summer it would be so hot! On our way back we took in the view from Captain’s Roost, a selection of fire-charred palm trees surrounded by spectacular succulents including a fire stick bush and massive agave, it was so cool to see them. After we came back to the car park we enjoyed some time wandering around the Griffith Park Observatory (note, it is closed on Monday) to enjoy some photo opportunities and the incredible views of the expanse of Los Angeles. 

Enjoying our relaxing time at the observatory checking out the building and the artwork we found a hummingbird and Ash was very keen to make friends with this guy! I managed to get in for a closeup shot and then an action shot of a hummer giving Ash a flash before flying off into the distance.

After the little hike and wander to Griffith Observatory, we drove down to Los Feliz to the Fern Dell trail. This little trail was briefly featured in La La Land it was a cool location to discover and explore for some interesting foliage and trees and the kids enjoyed looking for goldfish and crayfish in the little streams. The cute red squirrel was a rare sight for me as I only see the grey ones on the redwood tree in my back garden – this guy is praying to be invisible to the dog.  Oh and after a hike, we enjoyed some tacos at Guisados in Echo Park – highly recommended by a local, where the tortillas were fresh and fish and vegetable tacos were delicious. 

One thing I really enjoyed about LA is the street art everywhere – it reminds me a lot of Melbourne with their laneways of murals created by local artists. The kids enjoyed the fact that artists are commissioned to create art for the streets. I love this Audrey Hepburn mural that we discovered when we wandered into the Toy District of DTLA. 

Tuesday: We packed in around four stops on our trip to downtown LA beginning with booking tickets for The Broad a month ago. So before we hit the gallery the plan was to go to Grand Central Market and check out the food and of course, coffee! To get to the market we took a Lyft to Angels Flight – a cute little funicular tram that took less than a minute to travel downhill, the kids enjoyed it very much and at $1 it was just fine! At the market, I found the tastiest latte made with almond-macadamia milk and served in a 10 oz glass, just the way I like it. From our coffees, my hubby and kids had tacos and horchata then we wandered down to The Last Bookstore for lots of fun photo opportunities and an excellent selection of books! The second floor also had many artist studios with artwork for sale. Oh and we briefly wandered into the Bradbury building to get a feel for history and see where some scenes from Bladerunner were filmed and we did all of this before lunch! 

After lunch we had our tickets to The Broad, I was so happy to be there and see the art that I had only read about in art history books for real. Plus the building itself is spectacular outside and in. To get tickets for this gallery is to book in advance where the tickets are available one month in advance and it is completely free! Now, where on earth can you experience this dream of visiting rooms of contemporary artists in such splendour. The huge sculpture by Nancy Rubin outside is by the MOCA and to us, it looked like a chicken. The kids were done with galleries by this time but if you are alone it would be the perfect end to the day.  Though we did zip across the road to see the Walt Disney Concert Hall which is another marvel of architecture – those pics are on my phone which I need to upload soon. 

Wednesday: On our way home we drove by the hills burned by the fires in Ventura and stopped at Rincon Island (a now-defunct oil drilling platform with a super long jetty). I can see why it was shut down due to pollution as the water there is beautiful and clear and full of life with anemones and mussels by the bunch with a beautiful stretch of beach looking towards Rincon Point known for its perfect surf. 

I had no expectations of our trip to LA and I had heard from friends that they either loved it or hated it. My experience is that I loved it and really enjoyed our experience there with so much to see in such a sprawl and from what I did see I really enjoyed the art and food with no shortage of vegetarian options! One standout was Little Pine a vegan restaurant owned by Moby with all the proceeds going to animal organisations (I found out about it on Insta). It was a dream come true for me going to a vegan restaurant, the food was delicious and filling and the desserts were so tasty – so if you ever go make sure you order wisely and save room for dessert.

I have no idea why I have not spent more time in LA in the twelve years I have been living here but hey better late than never.

Tikkun Olam – repairing the world

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I was planning to write about the current dystopian nightmare we currently live in with the news last week of a shooting in Southern California, the election results (not so bad but that idiot still is in power), devasting fires in California, to a murder in broad daylight by a crazy man who was inspired by Islam extremism of a  Melbourne icon. A man who truly saw his customers like family, the co-owner of Melbournes legendary cafe Pellegrini’s Sisto Malaspina I was in tears at the end of the week when I read the news. There are people in this world who are unforgettable and shine a light to make the world a better place and he was one of those people. I remember chatting to him when I would go and get a coffee when I worked down the road at Kinko’s, he made me my first macchiato and chatted to me about coffee and life. He always was welcoming and genuine, his presence in Melbourne will definitely be missed – my heart feels sad for the loss of this man as does most of Melbourne.

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I had the hope of waking up over the weekend and all the evil would be all over but no, we have to keep calm and carry on. So I went to yoga and witnessed the bright red sunrise to begin the busy day and as we were driving home the sunset was a smoke-filled haze and life continued feeling the pain of the world living in this dystopian nightmare.

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I had planned Saturday evening for ages and I went out to say farewell to my British friends to our fave place for happy hour Xahn and afterwards went out for more wine and dessert to chat about life and The Great British Baking Show. This delicious cheesecake is from Sugar Butter Flour in Sunnyvale and was just divine and was the perfect way to end our evening. I have met some incredible people here who I will miss and they are mostly travellers so I am sure I will see them in Australia one day!

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Friday inspired by a random post on Insta I started listening to Bjork and Spotify played one of my favourite songs which resonated with my current life situation of moving into another chapter of my being. I loved this album when I was living in my flat across from the police station in inner-city Melbourne. A place where I found the love of my life where we began our time living together briefly in Melbourne, moving to a bigger place with our little one and then our move to California for the last 12 years experiencing a different way of being. Listening to this again my gut tells me I need to be back with our family and friends and it makes me so happy to think of being back HOME in Australia.

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Hope is the feeling I am getting and there is no reason to give up when there is an inspiration in peoples words. As I was going to pick up this book by Michelle Obama as a read for my November break in Los Angeles I saw a friend of mine Ruth from the library (where I teach a sewing program) and she has recently returned from the East Coast with her dog Jesse. We had a beautiful conversation and I discovered she was a Holocaust survivor and has such an incredible history describing the Dump (current US Prez) as one of the villains in history a person who will intentionally take a piece of thread and unravel all the good in the world. The initial conversation began with Ruth sharing with me the Jewish concept defined by acts of kindness to repair the world known as Tikkun Olam, it is something to be mindful of and as Ruth mentioned to do something good for the world every day. I love to do random acts of kindness for humanity living an existence that is supportive of all beings so it was pure serendipity seeing Ruth today and having this thought-provoking conversation about our perspective on life.

Halloween the best time of the year

For the last four weeks my daughter and I attended a Girls Leadership workshop at the school I worked at last year. The new art teacher had set up a lovely area for knitting and fibre arts with an invitation for the kids to enjoy when they are in the hall, the weaving was made from two branches with hooks and string and designed so the kids can add their finger knitting to make a pattern – a very cool idea!

The workshop was empowering for me but hopefully, Missy will get something out of it eventually. Being 10 years old is difficult and if your friends are not so keen the influence rubs off and its all over, so she found it boring. Whereas I found it enlightening with using the tools below to help with kiddo conversations.

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I think these skills are universal especially with my kids who are 10 and 13 and sometimes there is a power struggle with wanting independence, I highly recommend these workshops for anyone who has girls.

On Wednesday it was my favourite time of the year – Halloween! I wore my owl costume from last year which earned me the costume prize at my dance class, which was cool 😀 My teacher went as a sailor lady and it was so fun to see everyone dressed up and dancing. I thank Joan’s class for the excitement of getting dressed up for Halloween as it was encouraged year after year and once I finally scored a sewing machine that’s when the magic happened!

Missy was a hummingbird for Halloween as you can see in the wings, she did not want a mask or a beak. We made the skirt and she glued on all the sequins and she helped sew the wings onto the blue top. Here is a barn cat from the ranch where the chickens live, one of the other kids told us this cats mama was killed by a coyote so this cutie is all alone and the humans are super protective of him by locking him away in his cage when they have completed their farm chores.

Finally, the time was right for trick or treating in the evening and we went to my daughter’s friends place where they were playing a bunch of videos on a loop such as Thriller, This is Halloween, Macarena and a song from The Greatest Showman. The kids scored a lot of candy and I even scored some for Ash who was away in Yosemite for Halloween, thanks so much G’s family!

Thursday we had our second week of Arts Focus and had decided to limit the direct instruction and just get the kids working after their big night of eating sugar and staying up late trick or treating. We managed to get these cool yarn octopuses made and the kids just loved making them but I had to make a new tutorial video due to the difficulty of following the YouTube vid we had found. Check out our new one and make your own.

Getting ready to farewell SF

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Cruising along last week prepared me for my weekend full of fun, starting with Trunk or Treat at our school. It was the first time we had signed up and it was such a good time with kids walking up and down the carpark filling their treat bags with tonnes of candy. I gave away two baskets full starting with around 800 Hersheys chocolate kisses.

The evening was a good time and I started the night off with some delicious tacos from the food truck, which really helped get through the Friday night. My outfit was a 1980s dance outfit – channelling my youth with the bubble skirt, sequins and big hair. The trunks were so creative and ours was a crafty dancy party as I have given away a lot of stuff and I do not have a lot of Halloween decorations. We shone our disco lights through the crochet blanket but the sound of the food truck drowned out our little speaker of tunes!

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My favourite trunk was our friends who designed their trunk with the theme of The Book of Life – it is such a beautiful film.

A couple of standout costumes of the evening was My friend’s costume with the lights on her hat from the character La Muerte from the Book of Life and another fave was the LED jellyfish and her sibling was a stingray – their mum told me that she was the ocean and wrapped in a blue ocean themed throw.

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After all the fun and excitement of trunk or treat my friends and I planned a hop on hop off tour of San Francisco months ago.

It was a bit strange to get the hang of as you waited around at a random bus stop and then when the bus came we had to get the ticket authorised for the Sausalito leg by the office at Pier 39. After we worked all that out half the day had gone but we packed it in and had a late lunch at this lovely traditional Italian restaurant San Drino in Sausalito (see the gnocchi and ravioli before we ate the thin crust pizza, amazing!) and had some ice cream from Lapperts as we were waiting for the bus. My ice cream was the right amount of sweetness the Ube Macapuno – Philippine Ube root with coconut puree, yummo!

Just travelling beneath the arches of the golden gate bridge atop the open bus was so cold but worth it for the incredible views of the bridge and the bay. I highly recommend these tours as you get a great overview of the city the view from the top of the bus allow for some magical photo opportunities. I plan on doing one in Melbourne when I get home to see what is new in the city 😀

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This is one of my fave shots of the day from the top of the bus while it was moving! Still, it was lucky to get this in focus with Karl the fog floating atop the water.

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After our trip to Sausalito, we went to see the rest of the loop and to check out one final destination – Lombard Street, AKA “the crookedest street in the world”. The views were spectacular and the sun was about to set so the sky was just gorgeous! As we were heading down the steep hill to go and get a quick snack for the way home we stumbled across this amazing sunset with the Golden Gate bridge in the foreground – so special and what a magnificent end to the day. That will most likely be my farewell to this beautiful city as I have two months left until we go home for good.

Sunday I had another early start with volunteering for the annual FabMo Textile Art Boutique. I wore my dress made from FabMo squares which received many comments of “cute skirt”, it is always so fun to wear it as it is the special souvenir of my time spent volunteering with FabMo – their ethos and approach to saving fabric from the landfill is something that I aspire to and maybe if I make the connections in Melbourne where I can create a FabMo there too!

This week is my last before I get into my next subject of Teaching Science and Technology – it should be a lot of fun juggling the study with moving home!

New places to play

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I don’t get out much these days with study and a ton of other tasks to do at home so I had a mission to go into San Francisco for the day to renew my daughter’s passport at the Australian Consulate. I hopped onto the train to allow myself a time of chilling and knitting which was excellent as I have many projects going on at the moment. Arriving in San Francisco and walking through SOMA I have never seen so many dudes in my life – hey if you are a single woman get out there! There were packs of them and as my hubby says its ‘cos of all the tech companies in South of Market. Funny they all look the same and dress the same in their little uniforms of trainers, jeans, t-shirt or checked shirt and some facial hair and glasses. Walking through the city there were many homeless people even camped outside the building on Market Street right in the middle of the Financial District. Crazy how there is so much money in this city and there is no real solution to the problem of housing for the homeless. Hopefully, with the upcoming election, some wise nut will be able to do something about it and begin to care for the community. As I was walking down 3rd Street there was a hotel worker strike demanding better conditions and pay – go for it and I wish you all the best of luck, it is a tough and demanding job often disregarded by the many folks who travel and expect more.

Thank goodness the Australian Consulate has such an easy process with the paperwork and it all went smoothly! With 30 minutes to spare I wandered down the road to Bluestone Lane, an Aussie inspired cafe. The story goes that the guy who started the chain began his coffee shop franchise in New York by the need to get a decent coffee and enjoy an Aussie style coffee shop. I went to the cafe in the hope of having a CUP of tea but this is the cafe and only do “to go” so I had a paper cup and had to recycle it! They had a couple of tables outside and there I sat and ate my $8 avocado toast out of a box and read my book on Swedish Death Cleaning. I really needed to go to the coffee shop in Union Square if I wanted to have a latte with a cup and saucer, this is all explained on their website, American style to go or Aussie style sit down, relax and enjoy a cuppa.  Anyway, it was not as exciting as I thought it would be and as I have been living in America for ages I always set my expectations low, so I do not suffer disappointment.

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Our baby girl Bella chilling out – which is where I should be but between subjects for Uni but alas, I have a bunch of stuff to catch up on, mainly sewing!

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To end the week I helped out at my work for a couple of hours on Friday and volunteered at the school walkathon for another 3 hours and I was done and dusted for the week, time to chill. Missy had just come back from her trip away on science camp for 4 days and was determined to get herself a t-shirt by walking 75 laps which equals around 18 miles (28 km) that is quite a walk! She did it and was quite pleased that she scored a shirt but by the time she got to the end they had run out of t-shirts so she will get it this week! Still, I am quite amazed that these 5th-grade girls mustered up the energy to complete the walkathon after their epic 5-hour hike on science camp, though they did say that was training for the walkathon 😀

The weekend was pretty packed with stuff to do with the kids going to the harvest festival with their chickens for 4H and sharing their chickens at a petting zoo and pet parade. Unfortunately one of the white king pigeons flew away, hopefully, he finds his way back to the coop – it was quite distressing for the kids to see him fly away!

On Sunday we met our friends up in San Francisco at a hidden gem called Glen Canyon Park where we hiked around the natural habitats to the main drag of Portola and found some food before we walked uphill to Twin Peaks and Sutro Tower. Glen Canyon Park has such a fascinating history which was saved from development by the “Gum Tree Ladies” in the 1970s. The park provides habitats for Red Tailed Hawks, coyote, racoon and many other critters of the city. There is a fenced off super cool park for the kids to climb and play but be warned – Adults must be accompanied by children! 

We enjoyed burgers at Tower Burgers which was a 10-minute walk away from the top of the hill and with some energy we continued our walk uphill towards Twin Peaks.

The views on Twin Peaks were breathtaking, as was the wind that was blowing us sideways! The crows were having a grand old time flying in and out of the wind currents up there. Here is San Francisco in all its glory. The kids had a blast pretending to be crows using their jackets as wings.

We headed back to the car by walking along the Gum Tree Girls trail and encountered many obstacles such as tree roots, low hanging branches, tunnels of scrub which makes it such a wonderful walk you have to be aware of your surroundings. This was another fun time in San Francisco with our friends being tourists for the day and discovering new places to play!

 

Comfort in the redwoods

A big week last week with celebrations for our newly minted 13-year-old – he had no idea about his present which we have purchased for his school in Melbourne as the kids bring their own device (BYOD). It certainly was a huge surprise to him – when asked what he got for his birthday he mentions it last in his list of gifts as it is something just for a special day! I love that about my kids they really are not that focused on consumer items and appreciate what they receive, thank goodness after living in this area where consumerism is everywhere and everyone has to have the latest tech gadget. Our house has one TV but everyone has a computer, mmmm maybe we have been sucked in too, so much for my anti-consumerist rant!! One of his fave things now are YuGiOh cards and has spent most of his birthday money on them – at least it is something that is creative and has a math component to it, so win win!

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After all the fun celebrations of the week, we took it easy and went camping with our school for one night under the redwoods. This was my first time visiting Portola Redwoods State Park and it was just beautiful. We were in two group sites called the Circle and the Point and it was surrounded by massive trees and right by the creek.

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My daughter took me on a walk through the obstacle course to get to the creek and we found one of the heroes of the redwood forest the banana slug doing his morning duty.

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Looking up high so many tall trees and the energy in amongst the green in the morning was so relaxing. I felt a bit stiff in my body as my mattress had sunk to the ground and it was freezing so in the middle of the night I got up and blew up my mattress and found myself in the same situation come the morning, blah!

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We had a couple of friends take us on the 1-mile return hike to the Old Tree, it was a very special hike leading to a very old redwood that 23 kids circled around on the docent-led hike the day before.

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Massive fallen trees provided many spaces to jump up and walk upon – these are 10-year-olds hopping upon this giant log.

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The sun was peeking through the trees in the morning and we really enjoyed the energy of these tall trees.

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Finally, we made it to the tree and my son is trying to climb it, I gave it a huge hug and said farewell to the redwoods. This is something I will really miss when we go back to Australia but there are other old trees that I can enjoy in the forests around Australia.

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This sign has the info on the age of the old tree at over 1,200 years old protected and living in a State Park. As ambassadors of the environment, our job is to take care of our earth so we can all enjoy the air that we breathe thanks to the trees.

This week before my CSA delivery came the fridge was empty and as my daughter is out on science camp it was a prime time to get into some beets! I made an amazing coconut milk (from coconut milk powder) beet latte for lunch and for dinner I found the Beet Balls recipe in my Samurai Salads book – I think I will have to look at it for more inspiration for autumn dinners. The beet balls were made with lentils and are the perfect addition for a wrap or crumbled into a salad.