Farewell Arts Focus for another year!

Last week it was our final week of Arts Focus with some very talented sewers from our school. I was really impressed with this owl fleece hat – I think this student has set the bar high for the next session! The quilt we made was given to our school principal as a gift for her baby, here is a detail of it – embroidered by one of the students.

This 2017-2018 session we brought in some new projects such as the yarn octopus and felt emoji. For the second session, we introduced the button tree to fill in some time as we had a lot of older grade kids (5th grade choose what class they would like to do as their final class). My co-lead also made the kids get fancy with their pillow making which is always a plus to see the kids stretch their creativity. The pipe cleaner doll and embroidery on the bottom left was made by a kinder girl who sewed such beautiful stitches. A favourite of mine is the platypus embroidery sewn by one of the 5th-grade girls in the class.


At the school where I work the students have been busy making a dollhouse for the auction coming up this weekend. The kids started with making little dolls of themselves and in true Reggio fashion, it evolved into something magical – this dollhouse. With some help from their science and art specialists, this all came together. I am helping them with pipe cleaner dolls this week to give away with the house when it goes up for auction this Saturday evening. Tomorrow we will wrap the yarn around the pipe cleaners and define the bodies of all these dolls lazing around in the playroom of the house 😀

It was back to University over the weekend and what better way to get the brain going on this clean eating diet I am currently on is to have grilled sardines over sauteed kale and roasted garlic topped with watermelon radish and tomato – very tasty with a dash of sriracha.

The annual Holi celebration my friend celebrates each year was a lot of fun on Sunday. We were very lucky to have the sunshine and warm weather after our all out splash of colour followed by buckets of water.


To add to this weeks collection of food I am looking at lentils as a high protein food so I needed to discover new recipes to eat them and this came to mind after enjoying lentils in Melbourne last year.

Black Lentils with Grilled Asparagus topped with watercress and goat cheese salad

1 cup black lentils (cooked)
1 small onion (cut finely)
Olive oil
1 cup diced tomatoes
1 teaspoon Smoked paprika
1 tablespoon miso mixed in a small amount of stock (a thick consistency)
Salt and pepper (to taste)

Bunch of watercress
Goat cheese (as much as you would like!)


  1. While waiting for the lentils put the asparagus in some oil on the grill.
  2. Simmer onion on a skillet in a little oil until transparent, add lentils.
  3. Mix onions and lentils and add diced tomatoes.
  4. Mix through miso and stock through the lentils and add salt and pepper to taste.
  5. Finish with watercress, tomato and goat cheese.

Sewing a little love


Another week flies by, and it was back to Arts Focus on Thursday. Our little button tree extra project is looking really good now, and it gives the kids a good reason to sew a button onto something as a group project. The class for the LED cuffs went well as I made a video this year for the LED cuffs to show on the big TVs in the classroom. An excellent outcome of the class is when the kids hardly make any mistakes and hopefully follow the correct steps from the diagram and the video, so I call that class a win. Next time though I will not be stressing out from stopping and starting the video and handing out the materials required, the kids do not realise how much energy goes into these classes and we DO need more volunteers!

This week I am eating like a rabbit with many takes on salads for this low-fat exercise diet I will be on for the next 3 months. Checking out my calories on the Fat Secret app I need to up my protein intake to build muscle. So at a confused point on how to make this happen last week, I made an Asian salad with tofu and nori. Saturday was an eat anything day as friends invited us over for a delicious quiche dinner with ice cream sandwich for dessert and to top it off, a couple of glasses of red wine. I made a kale salad with Brussels, beets and sunflower seeds to go with the quiche and it was perfect.

Sunday we caught up with friends who moved out of our neighbourhood and now live in San Jose by this beautiful stretch of rolling green hills and oak trees. It was so lovely to be outside after the rain and see new leaves on the trees. The kids even found a geocache box full of crap!

I am hoping I get the hang of this exercise diet thing this week before I head on back to my studies this weekend – whoo hoo here’s to another 12 weeks of work, study and life!


No skiing, just cleaning!



Last week was ski week which was a whole week off of doing whatever we wanted to do! I was on a mission to clean out a couple of rooms in the house, and the first target was the sewing/study room. The motivator was to move fabric out of there into the hands of my co-teacher who wanted quilting cotton, so that helped me get started. The rest of the fabric I donated to Hope services and kept a year’s supply, so I don’t have to go out and get some more, as hard as it is for a fabric lover to hold back on staying away from fabric purchases! Having a clean room allowed me some space to discover leftover projects and things I wanted to create like a felted vest from my husband’s old jumper. I threw it in the washing machine and left it there to shrink to a really small size, and there was an OOPS moment, but then I got out my super sharp scissors and cut away and made a cute little vest, which reminded me of what Kat wore in The Hunger Games.

The other project I completed was a bulky knitted scarf with some lovely yarn a parent bought me last year for a holiday gift! I found some big wooden buttons, and now I have a very bright striped scarf to get through this winter and the upcoming winter in Melbourne in June.


As I am in a cleansing mode at the moment getting ready for the imminent move home to Australia, I figured I would cleanse my body and eat clean, start counting calories and pick up on my exercise to a higher level doing HIIT (High-intensity interval training). HIIT is intense really tuckers me out, but it feels so good. The idea is to do a day then a low-intensity workout like walking or riding and back to it. Today I did weights, and my arms are feeling it!

The thing is I have never been on diet of watching what I eat to utilise the right foods I consume positively, so I am really enjoying this and seeing what will happen. Hopefully, I can get toned in my body and gather more energy in the process. This is one of the recipes from the eating plan, and it is quinoa cakes cooked in coconut oil and served with salsa – delicious indeed and full of protein for a vegetarian.

Sunday after my first HIIT workout where my inner thighs were hurting from too many squats we met our friends from Oakland at Mori Point for a hike. Note that this hike was supposed to be low key! Instead, the kids and the dads decided to hike up that cliff you see in the first pic and wander through eroded paths on an unmaintained trail which caused me great difficulty as sometimes I am not too good with heights, cliffs and the ocean below. Eventually, we made it back to the ground safely, after I had fallen over into rocks, but all was fine. We had lunch at Rockaway Beach and headed back the safe way on a path!


From the trail we found this beach full of crab shells and a lot of flotsam and rubbish on the shore, perhaps it is a trap for trash due to the cliff and inlet – who knows?

On our way back to the cars we wandered through a path surrounded by pampas grass. The kids just loved it and were sword fighting with the tall grass. The funniest is when the kids were wandering within the grass with little bits of feathers moving around.

It was such a beautiful afternoon with warm sunshine and blue sky which made a perfect spot for taking some pics of the grass in bloom. Sword fighting or being Jedis the kids just loved them!

On our way back Calla lilies were in bloom growing wild, and a garden that was dedicated to 9-11 from a local volunteer Gardner had a selection of succulents and other fun plants in memory of lives lost.


The kids and my hubby are at the top of this hill they are waving down to us who were walking on the path by the road. They ended up taking the high road where there was not real way to come back to the path, so they had to backtrack and walk the long way back to the car. By the time they arrived the weather was super chilly by the beach, and it was time to go home after a very adventurous day!

All in all I had a very productive week of clearing out the sewing / study room and our master bedroom with the end goal of “Do I really need to take this back to Australia with us?” I still need to venture into the kitchen one day, whew!!

Nothing like a holiday!


Now we are on holidays and it is so good to sleep in and catch up with so much stuff that has been waiting to be done such as getting rid of stuff for our move! So far I have cleaned out the sewing room but I still do not have a cupboard’s worth of fabric, hey I could be here up to another year so I have to keep some fabric to keep me occupied in my spare time!

Yesterday we did a coop clean out with another 4H family and we came home covered in dust. It was so much fun to see the chickens again, Ruby even got to go on a walk with a chicken leash 😀 Now their coop is super clean complete with an indoor dust bath made from play sand and diatomaceous earth to help keep the feather mites at bay.


Saturday I went to yoga after weeks and it was a brilliant start to the weekend with my idea of cleaning my house I may as well cleanse my body too with some hot yoga! The spring flowers are starting to pop up but with the current weather with overnight lows of 2-4 degrees, I only see it in the sunshine during the day.



These lovely watercolour pictures are created with salt on the watercolour to create the sky in the background. This was a discovery for me as I have not had much experience with watercolour. Our art teacher worked on planet paintings with the kids and these were my favourites with the bottom on looking like Salvador Dali.


Wednesday we had wandering time in the chapel and the kids worked on an exercise of what feelings arise when you look at particular colours and this is what happens when you give a 1st-grade girl the colour brown.


These made great gifts though next time I will wrap them individually on cardstock so they do not tangle plus they need to be made long so the string can get over the child’s head. In the end one was so small it went on one of the kindergartens stuffies!

A quick little Valentine gift


With Valentine’s day around the corner, I had a bit of a task on my hands to make last-minute valentines for my Kinder and 1st-grade students. So here is a quickie tutorial on making these cute little wooden bead heart necklaces.

Supplies needed: a stash of wooden beads – 25mm (about 1″), watercolour paint, brushes, skewers, a tall mason jar, sharpie, concreters string (from OSH) and Mod Podge.

Paint your beads all the colours of the rainbow using a watercolour wash on each bead, use a skewer to hold the beads in place. When the paint is dry draw a heart with sharpie and seal with mod podge on aluminium foil. The beads are ready to be strung and given to the kiddos as little Valentine gifts from their teacher! A super cool and somewhat quick project, I did have help with quality testing from my 9-year-old daughter – lucky!


This is a super cute kinder card my co-teacher came up with using tissue paper squares, glue and then cutting the card to make a card for their parents.

These are observational watercolour drawings made by the 1st-grade class for a card for their parents – such beautiful watercolours created.


This was another kinder card using sequins, a sticker and a heart doily – I really love seeing what the kids make when given the opportunity to craft.


This is an invitation for making the paper plate heart sewing with yarn craft for the 1st-grade class. All you need is some yarn, paper plates prepped with a heart shape and a hole punch and yarn needles. This is the perfect craft to practice sewing with a large needle and ready punched holes.


And sewing last week with my volunteer class at Stevenson Elementary was making felt emoji keyrings – featured is one make by a 5th grader. We precut the circle and the kids can embellish whatever emoji they like from our emoji poster for ideas or create their own.

And I thought last week was pretty quiet with the 100th day of school – the Kinders bought in 100 of different things like coins, seeds, Perler beads, pom poms and these two with beads and little tiny felt houses. I remember when I did it with my kids it was 100 buttons stuck on some cardstock, maybe I was too overwhelmed with the two kids to be super creative at the time 😉


Again the amazing ramen recipe from Minimalist Baker and this time with a poached egg and seaweed – an absolute favourite at my place each week, especially in the winter.


This is the Japanese Pizza from 101 cookbooks with a watermelon radish salad with a side of chanterelles and homemade miso mayo drizzled over the top – such a divine meal for the mushroom lover.

And I thought last week was pretty quiet – checking over all of this it seemed like quite a busy week for me, oh and I got some sewing done on the weekend too as I was inspired by some love bird fabric I found at FabMo. It is so good to sit at my sewing machine again 😀 we have a break from school/work next week so time to organise the study/sewing room and do some sewing.


Relaxation at last

It is no wonder my lack of sleep is catching up with me now – it all started with staying up each night finalising my Case Study for my final assignment for the teaching period. Now that I am done this week it is such a weight lifted and I feel free for a month and I can catch up on other things that I have left behind!

The fun last week was the Super Blue Blood Moon which we woke up for at 5:30am on Wednesday morning – it was very early but so worth it just to see the red moon – incredible! I have pictures from the NASA Live coverage plus a couple of pictures I took with my phone camera and you can see the tiny dot in a sea of black!


Thursday we had week 3 of Arts Focus and it was embroidery and fleece pillows with a button and as our class has been working so well and completing their projects, my co-lead came up with the button tree blankie so the kids can have practice sewing buttons!


I was back at work on Friday morning and the kids found a freshly hatched monarch butterfly drying in the sunshine, it was just beautiful to experience – you can see the cocoon just above in the bush.


Come Friday the opening of the Community School of Music and Art School show was on display and work by Miss H was there so I dashed in to take a pic of it. This is her second piece on display with the CSMA over the last year and hopefully, we get her peacock pastel drawing back from the school soon.


Saturday was a Ride with Lenny the Mountain View Mayor and Safe Mountain View and Great Streets were there to help out on the day and I found peeps who love Public bikes and here is mine in red, Janet’s in white and Tracy’s in Green – looking very Italian! We are all bike advocacy folks who enjoy our commuter bikes 😀

Sunday we finally had a family day of relaxation at the beach and enjoyed a small amount of time at the beach with a walk and a dip in the icy cold Pacific Ocean, it felt so good to be burying my feet in the sand and grounding with the earth.


The kids were hungry so we wandered to downtown Santa Cruz and it was so quiet and lovely – maybe because the Superball/bowl was on and everyone was partying with their big screen TVs and dip? Anyway, we were out and about and found this brunch place right at the end of the main drag with these delicious poached eggs on a couple of muffins with avocado and hollandaise sauce with a pot of Japanese green tea – now that is what I like and thank you, Santa Cruz, for being so cool!


Lulu Carpenter’s was a very lovely cafe with outdoor seating both on the main drag and out the back in a courtyard with a bunch of tables in the middle with students working away on their computers – I was glad not to be one this weekend! The range of teas was just divine and I really enjoy a good cup of tea I even had a decent cup rather than a mug to drink my tea which is refreshing for a cafe in America.


And for our next visit to Santa Cruz, the Museum of Art and History looks like fun – we missed an event on yarn bombing, these guys are speaking my language!!

Arts with some crafts


Yes, we can be bigger together, and it was such a big week of amazing art and time with incredible talented children! My friend, a ceramic artist, volunteers with our school and made this beautiful display of student work inspired by the book BIG by Coleen Paratore.

In addition to the ceramic works here are a few of my faves at the show – at tribal mask made in the 3D class, a dragon made in the materials class and a picture on wood in the photography class. Of course, there was so much more art I loved, but I was too busy chatting with friends and socialising to get more pics!


Thursday was the second arts focus class, and our amazing class of lots of enthusiastic sewers made some beautiful octo-pie from yarn.


This talented 5th grader made a super cool cat hat out of fleece that I will feature in the art show.


Another of young student made her octopus with help braiding from a 5th grader.


This is an extra project made by a 5th grader who chose to be in sewing – I am so happy to see such creative and talented sewers ready to work with a needle.


In my kinder class, the kids are working on ideas for a dollhouse and this is what they came up with for the kids working with blocks, and they have included their little dolls in the scene too. This is a wonderful way to explore architecture.


These two rascals enjoyed chicken time on Monday with the yin and yang chickens Luna and Snowflake.


And I am counting the time until my oven is fixed – the heating element broke last Thursday, and since then I have been trying to get it fixed when some clowns said they would charge $400 to fix it when the part alone is $70 now that is extortion. So my hubby said he could fix it for me though let’s see how that unfolds, till then I have to be creative with the sandwich grill as I used that to grill the fish for Taco Tuesday today.

Anyway here is our delicious wild salmon rice bowl from Monday night as I wanted something easy for a Monday and a rice cooker is an excellent option of cooking while making something else – like the crispy salmon skin and salad.


A four day week of busy-ness


These two little animals in their groovy little house were made by the Kinders with their these Magna tiles to play with on the light table. They are so colourful, and I love seeing the creations made by the kids. Kindergarten is such a fun age to be in the classroom.


Other fun prep ideas with the salad in a jar taken to another level by storing it in the IKEA jars that you can have a fresh salad on hand for lunch or even when you are making a quick dinner over the weekend.


Thursday came around all too quickly and the second session of arts focus began! I was teaching with minimal instruction this time as we have dedicated volunteers for each table group. The kids made a stellar effort on both of their first-week crafts of a pincushion and a fleece hat complete with embellishments. I left the class thinking that went so well, and how great it is to reflect on the first session. We examined what went wrong and how to improve it for the next time (it does help we have more 5th grade kids!) I planned to get the kids into working their projects as soon as possible with minimal direct instruction on the rug.

These little wooden people were made with our art teacher at Ventana for the children’s story workshop where this character represents themselves for a personal narrative they will be writing. I love how they have come out, and even the one in blue to me looked like a grandma, but it is the persona of the little girl in the story with a swimsuit on and a swimming cap and just super cute!


Friday I went to work and helped with the kids in 1st grade as one of the grandparents Nonna is helping the class make this fantastic quilt for the auction prize from their class. They have made hand prints, and she was getting the kids to place the border around the quilt from the scraps. It is so detailed, and Nonna is one talented quilter – I am quite excited to see the process directly from a professional. She has made the continents on a sea of blue in the centre which took ages to piece together! One trick she showed me when carrying her quilt back home was to use a pool noodle to wrap the quilt in – such a cool idea.


Thursday was a big day for my hubby and my daughter who became a part of Russian history at Fort Ross for an overnight field trip. They both had night watch with 2am for the little one whose name was Paraskov’ia Kulika and she was a Gardner. My hubby was a clerk at the store, and he traded goods to all the workers. They both came back Friday quite tired, but we did go out and catch up with friends for a birthday that evening. 


Then came the weekend and I was studying and trying to focus on doing a decent amount of work. We enjoyed time out with friends on Friday, and after study on Saturday, I like to go meet friends at the park and take the kids to play. Sunday came, and we went to see. Mary and the Witch’s Flower by Hiromasa Yonebayashi – famous for Howl’s Moving Castle, Princess Mononoke and Ponyo. We went to enjoy the exquisite detailed Japanese animation. The story was lovely, and my son really enjoyed it so much it is now his second favourite film with The Lego Movie for the number one positionI highly recommend this movie for its rich animation and for the fun and original story inspired by the book The Little Broomstick by Mary Stewart, plus it has cats in it!

Here comes the rain again

It was lovely to see the rain last week even though it was inside recess and I did not get to go out of the classroom to enjoy the fresh air of winter. The highlight was Thursday when I saw the sunshine at last which made me realise I probably would not enjoy endless overcast days without the sun!

With the kindergarten class, I work with I enjoy watching the kids interact during curiosity time – a time where they get to explore materials and create little stories with each other. We were lucky enough to have a light table in the room and I remember when I was at the Portland children’s museum and saw these Magna tiles on the lightbox it was just beautiful. Unfortunately, this lightbox needs a bit of a fix and we did not enjoy the light shining through these!

The scene above of the forest animals arranged in their territories was created by M and I love to see what she comes up with every day – there is even a bit of moss in the scene and the wooden circles make the best materials to create stories with for the kids.


Thursday began the show at Mountain View City Hall where we hung the pieces for the art show which is running until January 26th, the range of work is incredible from the ceramics to the weaving and dying to photography and theatre. Our school is so lucky to have such a wonderful program for the kids to enjoy. We introduced a couple of new projects in sewing class this session an emoji keyring and a yarn octopus. The projects went well with most of the kids giving a personality to their emoji and the yarn octopus had a lot of braiding so the kids who could not braid were a bit stuck with this one. The quilt was also a new design creating community amongst the kids and switching out pieces to sew to create the 9 square pattern plus my co-lead kept track of each square so that the kids could embroider their initials on the square they made, even the leads embroidered their initial in the center, see the T and the G.


Because of the rain, the kids wanted to have ramen and I flat out refused as I could not be bothered to go downtown to try and find parking in amongst all the tech heads who invade our downtown during the week. It is great for the business of the restaurants but I just cannot be bothered to wait in line for dinner and listen to a bunch of people talking about themselves. Anyway enough of my rant about downtown Mountain View, there are many people who love it for this energy but after work, the last thing I want to do is wait for ramen in the rain amongst a bunch of self-centred geeks. So I promised the kids I would make a vegan ramen and my fave is the Minimalist Baker vegan broth and we just add whatever we have in the fridge as the toppings. This has some mushrooms, radish, broccoli, capsicum and tofu and it was just divine. The plan is to make a big pot of it and have it in big Mason jar ready to heat up and add the Miso and the veggies, super easy weeknight meal.


The other tasty dinner was a riff on the Japanese pizza I made last week using egg, cabbage and flour on the cooked vegetables and bake this in the oven for around 30 minutes at 375 degrees and there’s dinner a frittata (of sorts) with a ready-made salad. The leftovers are a perfect addition to a sandwich with some mayo – delish!