Something borrowed, something new

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I found this interesting info about camping in a book from my daughter’s classroom when I was waiting to go home from school. This is what we enjoyed for my husband’s birthday over the weekend. Friends from our school organized this trip to Memorial Park near Pescadero, in the summer and we thought what a lovely way to spend a birthday weekend under the redwoods! Yes, I can say camping is quite relaxing though the preparation and organizing for a night out in the woods can be quite demanding especially after a big week!

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A banana slug found by the creek where we were hanging out and relaxing after a big week. Hopefully, this guy found some tasty foliage and was kept out of harm’s way!

The week started out with my monthly program at the Mountain View Public Library with Sew Sew with FabMo. I am the FabMo representative who creates little take home projects working with FabMo fabric from interior designers and smaller textile design companies that would otherwise end up in the landfill. I had a class of 8 people who enjoyed making embroidered cuffs – a cuff is a bracelet with a snap to hold it together and we go through the process of sewing a front and back, sewing a snap and embellishing the fabric and then sewing the whole cuff together. I have a link to the tutorial on this blog if you want to try your hand at sewing one. Everyone is so happy when they leave with something that they made themselves and very thankful for the class, so it is a joy to volunteer to teach something that I really love.

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Another side project I am enjoying with my Italian friend Cristiana from Pebble and Fire is an Art Play every 2 weeks sharing our skills. We visit each other and work together, have lunch and finish a project. Our first project was a ceramic pinch pot that Cristiana helped me create – it is a geometric salt cellar. It was so fun to create and learn new skills in ceramics that I may have missed when I went to the adult education classes. Cristiana is super skilled at hand building I love her style, so it is such a treat.

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And this week we worked upstairs in my sewing room and Cristiana wanted to make a pillow case so I made her the pattern and we did some applique and made an envelope backed pillow cover. It looks just lovely on her couch and the little whale is made from denim and we embellished the heart from the red fabric we used on the back. It was so much fun to see my friend enjoy sewing as last time we went sewing together it was at an Etsy event in San Jose making lunch bags which was easy for me but not so for Cristiana. At least, this time when we worked together it was a bit more relaxing. I am looking forward to our next project together and it is such a great thing to do to learn something new and spend some time out of the usual.

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In between, I have also been preparing work for the FabMo Textile Art Boutique that I am working towards. Here is another denim tote I have made using some beautiful linen I found at FabMo. I also made completed the sunglass pouches I worked on last week and made 3 skirts from stretch fabric – whew that inventory is coming along nicely!

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Today I worked with the kids at school helping them choose colours for their cubby project where they are making an art installation using fabric I found at FabMo. They are staining the wood with a 1 part acrylic paint and 2 parts water where the wood absorbs the colour and creates a translucent effect with the wood grain. I love it and cannot wait to see the finished installation in the classroom.

Celebrate, Good Times

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Look at this little Pomegranate thief, up high in the tree and grabbing the forbidden fruit of the pomegranate from a front garden up in the hills! It has been another one of those four-day weeks that went by in a flash but at least I managed to design a cocktail dress that I have always been dreaming about!

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Saturday we did take a family day out to Bark in the Park over at San Jose in the hot summer sun for some excellent dog-friendly activities. Hanging out with friends and meeting lots of dogs, what a lovely way to pass the day! I highly recommend this if you have never been before and have a love of animals. The entertainment will keep you going as there are lots of dog related shows to check out and all for free and you don’t even have to have a dog! The best thing is you get to meet lots of dogs and pat them – yay!

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Saturday I was invited to a party at my friend’s house for her daughter from London who will be getting married this Wednesday – Congrats Elly and Olly! I gave myself a project to design the cocktail dress of my dreams and it took most of my time last week but as I was inspired by the vintage fabric I found at an estate sale last week I continued with the flow. It was a lot of fun as I combined a bodice from a dress I love with a skirt from The Great British Sewing Bee book – creating a design in this way requires a lot of thinking and manipulating, still I went along with it and ta-dah finally I was happy with what I created. Also, it was a bring along a dessert to the party so I made my favorite Fig Tart with a Rosemary Cornmeal Crust from Epicurious. From my CSA box this week I received these beautiful candy stripe figs and they looked (and tasted) beautiful on the tart.

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The party was so much fun with an amazing array of food thanks to my friend’s daughter Rosie who is an events manager in London. The bar was the best with gin (& tonic) from a bespoke distillery down the road from Canary Wharf where Rosie lives and I enjoyed my first experience of a Pimms cup complete with fresh fruit, cucumber, and mint – an absolute delight. And as a special treat, we enjoyed this amazing ‘cheesecake’ made from Stilton, Pecorino, Goat Cheese and I think Humboldt Fog Blue cheese! What a dream complete with gorgeous figs and grapes. A piece of art in itself and very tasty at that🙂

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As part of my segway of creating a cocktail dress this week I wanted to get a move on my inventory for the Textile Art Boutique coming up on October 22nd. So I made these sunglass pouches for your fly eye sunnies out of FabMo fabric. I have them in a regular glasses size also a wee bit bigger for the bigger Audrey Hepburn style fancy sunglasses.

Going on a Treasure Hunt!

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As I write this, it is Monday evening and thank goodness it is over! What a way to start the week and a friend was mentioning that good ol’ Mercury retrograde is up to it’s old tricks again. Expect delays and the like but I did not imagine a Monday would start with a nail in the tyre of our car – oh well, take a breath and get on with it and take your Monday down a notch or two and enjoy some reading and a cup of white peony tea!

As for my creative project this week I made this lovely long sleeve tunic I found in a book Handmade Style. What a wonderful pattern and easy to make and super comfortable to wear – though I will be making it a wee bit longer next time! This works well with leggings but I do have to be careful when I bend over…

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In the pic above I am channeling my urban gardener or this outfit could be worn on holiday somewhere by the beach – perhaps Australia? We will be returning down under next June, I cannot wait!

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Another fun thing I channeled this week was my inner hula hooper. As I was watching my daughter effortlessly hoop for many revolutions, every time I tried the hoop kept on dropping to the ground. Thanks to some help from some YouTube videos and practice I managed to get some hoop action happening while listening to Cat Power, it is so amazing how centered it can make you feel as it does require a great deal of focus to have your body in the correct space.

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Last Friday was a big score day for me as I subscribe to an email list of estate sales around the Bay Area. There was one in Mountain View last week which had a collection of stuff that spanned over 50 years! I usually scour estate sales for vintage fabric which I did find and cannot wait to make stuff from. At this sale, I found a big olive pot for my plants, costume jewelry, and vintage champagne glasses – for whenever I feel like having a party. And as a special request from my hubby he wanted to some tools – check out this good looking vintage saw I found. I had to ask the dude at the sale if I could give it a go to see how sharp it was, so he found me some wood and thanks to some recent lessons with the 5th graders I tried it out – perfect! This saw would also make a great home decor piece for our cabin or yurt in the woods as the handle is decorated and shaped beautifully – dream on!

All in all a very productive 4 day week with just the right balance of creativity, exercise and treasure finding.

Hunting high and low

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A week of peace and contemplation and I managed to clear my mind to enjoy some creative endeavours. I had a pile of my husband’s jeans ready to be repurposed into something fun, so I created these tote bags. The fabric is from a sample from Designer’s Republic in the UK I love the colours and so did a friend of mine in Melbourne and purchased it as a gift for her niece in New Zealand.

The first prototype was sold and take two is with the black and white print with an interesting vintage fabric lining and red details on one strap going across. I still have 4 to work, though – as I design them they take a life on their own.

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Cute kitten picture from swimming class with the kiddos this week – so much fun to have kittens by the pool!

The weekend was a good mix of relaxation and fun with the Mini Maker Faire on Sunday at History San Jose. I highly recommend this event as an alternative to Maker Faire. The location is perfect for the Makers and space is the perfect size for a family so you don’t feel so overwhelmed to keep your eyes on the kiddos and their activities constantly. There’s plenty of shady trees and cool redwoods to enjoy and the bonus is that with the activities all kids can create, take away and learn some new skills in the process.

At one of the tables was a hexagonal quilt making project which was very insightful to how a hexagonal quilt is put together. It is a cute little hand sewing project and the perfect project for an 8-year-old and for me too! Still, to make a quilt with so many hexagons it will take forever, we can always do a small portion as a detail for a skirt or something! As an introduction to hexagon quilt making, you can make a group of 7 and form a flower with your colours or patterns of choice.

As we were on our way out we had the chance to look at a letterpress and as my background is in printing – the commercial type of lithographic printing on a printing press, I was intrigued to see the traditional wood type letterpress in action. Missy had the chance to sweep the press across the print that had a coating of gold studio quality printing ink. This was such a treat to see!

This Mini Maker Faire was the 2nd annual and I hope to see more in the future as there are many vendors scattered throughout the activity tables and it is such a pleasant day out with the family as a lot of local museums from San Jose and surrounds are presenting projects and crafts such as the San Jose Museum of Quilts and Textiles, the Lace Museum and an Embroidery guild – yay for the inspiration.

Sunday we were hiking on a 2.5-mile hike through the dry oak woodland forest with our friends from Oakland. Hikes up in the hills are beautiful in the rainy season but as there has been zero rain for months the marsh is non-existent and the grasses are brown, this is  very normal for summer. The hike was on the San Andreas fault line and offers the opportunity to learn about the area’s geology. Unfortunately, the kids were on a mission to complete the hike and eat as soon as possible. Off one of the trails, we had the chance to hang out with a buddha hidden in a rock formation.

Still, the peace of hiking with no one else around was a pleasurable experience and the colors of the leaves are starting to change to their fall colours as you can see with this poison oak trio – leaves of three let them be! Soon with some luck the rains will come and make the grasses green again and the forests lush with moss, though it is hard to imagine with this last blast of summer this week.

Keep on moving don’t stop…

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What a crazy week it was last week with 3 minimum days and the schedule totally upside down – I really felt like this doll, flat out by the end of the week!

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Still, the weekend was big and the 2nd Annual Summer Bike Ride was something Safe Mountain View has had in the pipeline for the last 6 months. I was a part of the ride committee as I volunteer for Safe Mountain View, to promote safety on the streets. Our bike ride on the weekend was a success with just under 100 people showing up with their families to ride their bike around the city of Mountain View.

We rode in ‘bike buses’ of groups of 6-8 people taking it to the streets and riding together creating this amazing feeling as cyclists on the road. To have that sense of empowerment and pausing traffic ever so slightly was the best! Even some of the motorist were keen to join in the fun!

To ride in a group the kids felt safe too and I am thankful for this ride as it really encouraged my daughter and gave her the confidence that on a bike you can go where ever you like as long as you are safe and aware on the road. Now she wants to ride to school, sounds good to me as I like any excuse to get on my red bike and ride around. After the ride, we had a picnic back at Bubb Park and enjoyed ice cream after our well-deserved picnic lunches. Everyone was happy to have some ice cream and there were even seconds for anyone who wanted more!

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On Sunday we met some friends who live in San Francisco at the Treasure Island Flea Market for the day. Coincidentally on this day, there was a vintage trailer display and the interiors were so inspiring. The only thing to get a family trailer in action you need some sort of big truck so our Subaru sedan will not do the job. The teardrop or canned ham trailers are perfect for sleeping two which means we leave the kids out camping in a tent, maybe not! I have to get my hands on the book that was being displayed at the sites just to get an inside on design ideas.

I absolutely loved the colour schemes of the trailers – mid-century blues, pinks, and greens. The Shasta trailer was a popular choice of the day with a cost of just under $10,000 with an original interior it seems like a dream at this moment in time!

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As it was a fun flea market I wanted to road test a new skirt I made last week for the upcoming Textile Art Boutique I will be a part of. The skirt worked well with the wind and just created a little bell when the gusts of wind came underneath – so no flashes of my leggings! The other bonus as Treasure Island is about an hours drive away in the car the minimal crushing of the fabric for the drive was excellent, so I will be making more of these this week and getting my inventory up and happening. I have until mid-October to get a bunch of new stock together so I better get moving!!

I’m free to do what I want any old time – not really, though the idea is exciting!

It was the first week off for mama time in 10 weeks – it was just pure ecstasy to be able to have some freedom to create and work in my sewing room. My ideas were overflowing and the motivation to make something an all-time high, which is probably why I made two skirts and a top just to experiment! I really love the style of this skirt as I have always enjoyed the skirts my daughter wore effortlessly with zero zippers and an elastic waist – I love the waistband on the front of this skirt as it reduces the number of gathers in the front. I do really love the big floral skirt with the hand gathering at the front waistband, it is such a fun skirt to wear maybe a bit short for me!

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Repurposed waterproof skirt, score it at Etsy

The Polar Bear fox skirt is a beautiful print in a thin corduroy fabric. I was making a bigger size so I can have a range of sizes available. I love this fabric and am sad to let it go – so check out the sizing if you like animals and spoil yourself with a one of a kind skirt for next season. Both these prototype skirts I am selling at my Etsy store, so see the links above and if you want free shipping with that, go to the contact link on my blog and I will send you a code to use.

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As I love the yellow top that I wore for these skirts I wanted to replicate it as a top for all skirts – this is in a tee shirt style that I was experimenting with so I will try it with another fabric and see how it turns out. I have used a continuous bias binding on the neckline and the sleeve detail and I love how easy it was to create the bias binding using a tutorial from Craftsy.

I really enjoyed my time to create and  I listened to a wonderful audiobook I recently discovered called Big Magic – Creative Living Beyond Fear which was an excellent resource to get me back into the swing of things. Now whenever I am working I will just put an audio book on and work away – as long as I am not writing! What a great way to multi-task! I am now listening to To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee, so groundbreaking for its time and kind of surreal to listen to living here in the USA where times have “supposed” to have progressed in regard to racism.

On to a more food orientated topic and assistance with working efficiently. I found my fave cafe downtown sells a flat white. So I wandered in to meet a friend and talk about her summer vacation in Italy and our vacay in Australia. I ordered the flat white, check out the pic above and guess which one is the flat white? The American style flat white is the one of the right! Now to me coming from Melbourne I expected a flat white to look like the coffee on the left, which is a cappuccino! The flat white they made was perfectly fine but it was a bit low on the foam at the top and at least it did not burn my mouth which is why a flat white is my favorite. Now I know for the future that I will order the cappuccino with soy and see what I get, fingers crossed I can get it the way I am used to!

 

Adding to the fun of getting back to a somewhat normal week where the kids are at school and I am at home working on my creative projects – let me say it again, heaven! We have had to work into our schedule on a Thursday to go to the farm to clean out the chicken coop – which is a kids job and as their payment they get to hang out with the chickens and the pigeons and quails as much as they like. Hanging out with the birds is a great motivator for them and they get their job done – so far it has been an hour to complete the cleaning and feeding of the coop and the aviary and with some luck, they will reduce that time!

Here is Ruby in all her teenage glory looking good as the Production Little Red Hen that she is. We are looking forward to next March after the chickens are 12 months old they will start to lay eggs. Missy is in the aviary holding the cutest little male quail – we are looking for some females if anyone has any hanging around? Then we can have little teeny weeny quail eggs. The kids got to keep the pigeon eggs and bantam eggs as a cleaning reward the other day and enjoyed them for a tiny breakfast the next day.

What a week it was and I was so happy to have had a weekend of doing nothing after the holidays of planning stuff with friends and family over the summer – farewell to the summer holidays and let’s get on this hamster wheel of craziness!!

Back to Life, Back to Reality

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So we arrived back home to our house in amongst drama and a house infested with mice and a couple of nasty rats. Those nasty rats took a liking to the pantry and decided they would gnaw away at anything that might deem edible in the pantry totally destroying containers in their wake. This was something I did not expect I had to deal with when we came home – so after a good nights sleep, it was time to clean the pantry of mice and rat poo… what a god damn nightmare!!

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An urgent call to the exterminator and he came by as soon as he could – the first thing he saw was the cat door and said that is how they come into your house! Excellent time to close the cat door I say… Then out to the yard and holy hell, there is a jungle growing out there – apparently a haven for mice and rats. So I said OK time to employ these little munchkins and cut that jungle down!!

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After dealing with the pantry and the jungle in the back garden the next morning I found a rat scurrying across my bedroom floor, so I yelled: “Quick get a cat up here!!” And another call to the exterminator and he says it’s wandering looking for food… go on, lay out a trap and when we came home from our morning errands that rat was caught dead. Hopefully, now we have got the mice and rats trapped or in places where they cannot escape – I just want my house back minus the vermin.

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And the day finally came to send the kiddos off to school after our wonderful time in Australia. To say I am homesick is an understatement and if I could leave to go back to Australia tomorrow  I would. Still, the value of spending quality time with family is something that cannot be taken for granted and the times we spent together is going to live in my heart for a long time. We just need to align the stars and we will be back home soon…

So Long, Farewell, Auf Wiedersehen, Goodbye

Finally the time has come to say goodbye to our home of Australia! Over our time here we have enjoyed catching up with our family and friends in Queensland, Victoria and South Australia. We have made some new discoveries at places and eaten some incredible food. The time we have spent with our family and friends has been so special for all of us. It has been 8 weeks of travelling and being away from our two furbabies so it will be good to be back to our cats. Hopefully they will be happy to see us too!

The suburb where we have our house in Australia is full of multi cultural magic with Italian, Middle Eastern, Greek, Asian, Caucasian and more living together happily. This is what I enjoy about Melbourne overall with this incredible melting pot of cultures and I just love the food. Whatever takes your fancy you will be able to find it here. I have eaten so well here without having to worry about the ingredients and the vegetarian options are so creative. No plain ol’ vege burgers on these menus.

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As a final goodbye to my good friends here in Melbourne whom I have met through work, DJs and through classes we went out to happy hour at The Moat and enjoyed civilised cups of mulled wine. As we are all mamas to little kiddos it was an early night so we all enjoyed dinner at a Japanese restaurant where my hubby and I had our first date at Izakaya Chuji. I mentioned that we have to try the deep fried eggplant with miso so we enjoyed two servings between the 4 of us and a plate of nigiri. Such a wonderful night with my beautiful friends, hope to see you all again soon.

The second last catchup with friends in East St Kilda at Lava in Balaclava where they have some yummy juices and Missy enjoyed some pancakes. We wandered to our friends house afterwards to see their cats and their house renovations. Soon they left to visit their relatives and we had a mission out to St Kilda to check out Veg Out the community garden and of course, some chickens!

As we were tourists in our own city we checked out Luna Park! So many rides but the one we really wanted to check out as a family was the Scenic Railway the old style rollercoaster that has been there since 1912 and restored in 1999.

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I could not resist this pic and had to buy it for our wall to remind the kids of the terrifying or exciting time they had on the first time on a rollercoaster! Missy was so scared and she wanted to get off – I just screamed this is just like travelling the streets of San Francisco!!

After our thrilling roller coaster ride we took it easy down the beach and found this stunning black swan from the pier. The kids were hungry for afternoon tea and thank goodness the Acland Street Cake shop is still around. Missy enjoyed this gigantic meringue with hundred and thousands as a sweet treat.

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On our way to our final brunch and farewell to our family we wandered by lots of graffiti on the walls Ash and I both appreciate the street art so we were checking out some favorites for some pics. I wanted to take a pic with the Krish tag and made a T with my body instead of the K.

Our final brunch was with my sister in law and her family at this lovely vegetarian Italian restaurant just a walk away in Coburg called Little Deer Tracks. The food was so comforting and the breads homemade and so tasty with a sourdough starter that is 8 years old. My breakfast was the Dukkah Poached Eggs with feta, mushrooms, smashed avocado and marinated capsicum with chili oil, amazing! I could not get enough of the sourdough bread the kids did not want so I ate that too, it was a spelt sourdough and a tad lighter than whole wheat with such an earthy flavour.

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We had to finally get a picture of the cousins together so here they are in front of a mural by the cafe! Gotta catch ’em all!!

Goodbye Australia, until we meet again…

The Love Cats

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New discoveries abound when you are a tourist in your own home country. As we were investigating places to walk and play we found the Coburg Lake, an easy 30-minute walk from where we are staying. We wandered through the new developments of Pentridge Prison where new apartments are popping up within the old wallls of the jail – there are some good views to be had for the apartments up high. Walking past the prison walls and out we finally found the lake and a super cool playground with this really comfortable swing and very high slide, that you just had to climb!

To get to the top of the slide you are climbing and climbing until finally, you reach the hole where you hop in and go down really, really fast due to the great curve in the slide. So much fun to be had! Of course, when we lived here we had no interest in playgrounds, slides, and roundabouts. As we walked over the bridge up the stairs we found many sculptures including this selection of yarn balls – I think they were designed to be rope balls found on a wharf.

Midweek I had organised a playdate with my fellow vegetarian food-loving friend and her daughter. We had such an amazing lunch at Monk Bodhi  Dharma. The hardest thing for me when we go to these establishments is what do I choose as I can eat absolutely anything on the menu!! I opted for the Umami Mushrooms which was a bowl full of Roasted King Oyster, Shitake, Oyster and Swiss Brown Mushrooms on a house-made polenta pumpkin bread – for a mushroom fan, it was heaven! The kids were, of course, were a bit perplexed by the menu so I said just eat the buckwheat apple pancakes with ice cream and apple chips – they did protest, but wolfed them down in seconds. The chai was the best chai I have drunk in a very long time, spices roasted in-house and made with soy milk it was to be savored to the last drop. I can eat so well when I live in this beautiful city of Melbourne, this time, the weather isn’t bothering me so much as I love this city, even its seasons!

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It was a rainy day and we had a mission to go down to St Kilda Readings to pick up another book of the kid’s new favorite author David Walliams, sometimes you cannot find these books in the USA. Of course, I can buy it on the internet but it is way better to support a local independent bookstore! We braved the showers and got totally wet at the St Kilda City Gardens and the kids enjoyed the climbing and play structures. To keep ourselves dry we found the greenhouse and off we went with to play ball.

Down an alleyway for our next adventure to the Cat Cafe we found lots of street art and graffiti. Ash was a bit confused about the fine line between art and graffiti – I had to explain to him that artists are sometimes commissioned for the works or the City of Melbourne enjoys the alley art and it is used in photography shoots, tourism and the like. In the ‘What Good Shall I do this Day?’ the plaque I showed it to my son and he gave me a big hug!

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These alleyway posters are something different and maybe considered messy but as a graphic designer, I appreciated how all this works together especially the facebook and Instagram logos.

The cat cafe was such a relaxing experience. We each paid $12 per hour to spend time with the cats, 16 cats in total. As it is coming to the end of our holiday I am really missing our 2 cats and cannot wait to see them. In the interim, this was such an enjoyable experience patting these cuties gently and playing with the younger kittens. These cats are all living together in this warehouse style space built with a see through ladder for them to climb and see the world from up on high. The kids were in kittie heaven playing with the kittens and cats. It is just the perfect space for the cats with lots of places to jump on, sleep on, plenty of cat trees and places to hide if they don’t want any attention. These cats were so sociable and lovable we did not want to leave. Unlike the cat cafes in the USA where the cats are up for adoption, these cats live down an alleyway in a luxurious Melbourne warehouse apartment.

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While we were in the city we met Graham at the State Library Gallery. Project Graham showed us what we might look like if we were built to survive on our roads. He’s a reminder of just how vulnerable our bodies really are when speed and impact forces as low as 30km/h are at play. The Australian Artist Patricia Piccinini designed Graham and her work is always so lifelike using latex and human hair. In conjunction with the sculpture, it had an Augmented Reality experience using Google Tango tablets for the first time in Australia. The kids really enjoyed the interaction with Graham learning about why he had hoof-like feet. Watching the video from the tablet they found out that this was so he could jump out of the way of a car and protect himself.