Feasting on creativity

It was our last week together with my hubby in town until we are reunited again in April with our cat, I so miss my Bella girl! She will spend 10 days in quarantine before she is released to us when they both come home. I am so looking forward to patting her again. The plan was to spend some quality family time together and we went out to dinner for the CERES Tamil Feasts in support of Tamil men from Sri Lanka currently seeking asylum in Australia. It was a delicious spread of Sri Lankan food with fish as the highlight of the meal, and for the vegetarians, there was a vegan option. The fish was just how my mum makes her mackerel fish curry with a side of parrippu and other delicious goodies. It was hot for me but as I am not used to eating a lot of hot food so anything with a bit of chilli is a challenge these days. It was a 3-course menu and was so filling. We also celebrated with some alcoholic beverages on the side. The bonus too is that there was a chai tea the men make up that we bought to have at home – delish!

It was insightful to hear the men’s stories of how they have fled Sri Lanka in search of a better life only to be in detention for 6 years in Australia moving from state to state until finally, they came to Melbourne. Countries around the world all have their shame and this is Australia’s shameful contribution with their treatment of people who travel over here on a boat, crossing oceans not even knowing how to swim and risking their lives only to be locked away for arriving undocumented in this country. It would be a good thing for Australia to come up with a solution but the politicians are too busy infighting to even consider anyone else? It is such a shambles!

Enough politics, for now, the Tamil feast was at one of my favourite places in Melbourne CERES – the Centre for Environmental Research in Environmental Strategies at their cafe The Merri Table. It is such a special place to visit with chickens for the kids to enjoy and their market on the weekend plus the cafe which serves incredible food – I think I need to arrange a meet up with friends there soon.

As we were so full we decided to walk around at night for a bit to digest and who did we find – a cat called Gato who followed us for many blocks until he decided, these people are not giving me any more pats I will find someone else!

Saturday was a great sunny day and I met up with a friend at another lovely cafe in Fitzroy Gardens called Kere Kere Green where I enjoyed this flat white with a vegan toasted sandwich – yummo! The playing cards they give for your places are kept until the end of your visit and you use them to vote for a community outreach initiative that the cafe organises. Such a super idea for giving back to the community and such a friendly and happy place on the edge of the most gorgeous garden where I spent a lot of my lunchtimes contemplating cube life when I worked for a corporate company. I have so many peaceful memories where I felt so connected to nature balancing the boredom of a day in an office – we did make our own fun though!

This week I have found time for my creative streak to shine on where I have taken some of my old clothes and a fave fabric from my stash to make a couple of new pieces. I was realising my lack of clothes for winter and have made some layering pieces the top is from an old skirt originally kimono fabric and the dress is some fabric I kept from my fabric stash from 12 years ago (the rest of the fabric I donated on Gumtree). It has been so good to get out my old Janome machines and get busy. I only have 2 more weeks of freedom before my time is devoted to studying again, so I gotta make the most of it. The bonus was that my overlocker was already threaded and ready to go – now I am going through clothes that I originally threw out and I am going to repurpose them into new items for my winter wardrobe as the shipped goods will not be arriving until the end of April, so my leather coat will arrive just in time before winter.

Creative city vibes

The weekend was full of catching up with friends – eating and drinking and celebrating Chinese New Year together. The change of weather to a bit of coolness was appreciated and we wandered out to the city in the morning for the Sustainable Living Festival which happens over the month of February. My friend suggested we catch up and check it out and the young girls made a small bird treehouse and Ash enjoyed a story making workshop and created a space ship out of recycled materials as a part of his story of escaping earth and finding new life on another planet (each child wrote their interpretation of this concept). Artplay by Federation Square has many events for the kids and they gave me info on workshops for teens and kids that we can check out in the future. Happiness is having access to all these creative fun adventures for the kids and me. The kids even met a threatened giant freshwater lobster from Tasmania, hanging out in the festival educating the crowds on environmental issues.

Sunday morning we met a friend and her kiddos at ACMI in the city. As the story goes… ACMI is the place where my hubby and I met volunteering all those many moons ago! Ever since then we have watched plenty of films, as independent arthouse cinema is what bought us together. It was so fun to take the kids to the screen gallery, which is full of video games and many cinema icons to explore. The kids found a virtual reality game they wanted to check out and it is a game where the city of Melbourne gets taken over by a comic book and you as the superhero have to save the city. Both of the kids really enjoyed it so I decided to check it out! Man, it was insanely real with having the ability to fly where you literally felt like you were going off the ground, going higher and higher. It was intense and I had to get back down to the ground as soon as possible as I realised I was on the top of a building and afraid of heights! I finally got to a ground level and it felt so much better and the experience left me with a bit of motion sickness from how real it felt, VR has really advanced in the time since I last checked it out at a dance party in the 90s.

Today I had a booking to get my hair cut and styled at a salon in Fitzroy – one of my fave parts of the city. I found Cherry Bomb Hair as I love the way they do colour but for today I was wanting to get a restyle and bring my curls back. My hair stylist Chloe asked for pics of what I was after and then she went to work on my dry hair and gave it some life again as I have been too busy to think about spending time at the hairdresser. It was a fun day out with a surprise shopping trip to a gorgeous art gallery space with local designer knitwear and screen printed fabric, absolutely stunning! Then after shopping, I was ready for a warm bowl of vegan ramen as it was typical Melbourne weather of rain, cool, sunshine, blue skies and not so warm on this summers day. It makes me so happy to be back here, just little things like catching the train brings a smile to my face – it is so good to be home again.

And they are off…

Well, the time finally came and the kids were off to school. I have to say it has been a bit hard for my son with the high school kids and their cliques and not being so open to making friends. Whereas the primary school community is small enough that my daughter has met some friends, which is great! As for myself, I have friends out of the local area which is wonderful but trying to break into an already established community is a bit difficult. I remember when I went over to the States and I did not know a soul and things do take time and in reality, I have only been here since the 20th January so it has not been that long at all! My daughter’s school is having a picnic next week so with some luck I can meet some other families.

The big change for me is that I do not have to rush home to study after the gym – so I am pretty happy that I have finished my last teaching period! It was really a struggle having to study and move to a new country at the same time. I received an academic achievement for my last subject Teaching and Learning in the 21st century which really helps as trying to keep going is tricky with everything that is happening in my life! So I keep it out to look at each day so I can stay motivated and keep going!!

I have been going to the gym and cardio classes and they are intense but with my excitement to be working out I injured myself and overdid my quads when I did a body pump class. My plan was to do weights every day until I decided that every second day will be better as I can do one of the machines on my rest day. It is fun to go to the gym and it is a friendly place too but it’s not like my lovely dance class full of friendly ladies. Time will tell and you are in the zone when exercising so I can just focus on myself and not really socialise – I will have to remember to bring my headphones and listen to some motivating music :D.

Last Friday I went to see our interior scheme for our house build and it was very exciting. The exterior of the house is burnt black and white brick and the colour will be inside the house. The bathroom will have the Terrazzo floor with blue, green and wood highlights. We are still on plan for the tender process mid-February and fingers crossed a builder can fit us into their busy schedules! Oh, and while I was visiting the architect in South Melbourne, I visited the market for the most delicious food and had a cauliflower and leek pie with salad and roast veggies – so good!

Walking around our neighbourhood and who do I find? My hubby, yay he is here for a couple of weeks but alas he is working. Lucky, we have one weekend to catch up with family and friends to enjoy ourselves before he heads on back to wrap up the rest of the stuff back in California. After school when we picked up the kids, I said, “hey, how about a pie?” so Missy and my hubby took up the offer and they were tasty.

It is nice to be in some sort of routine now where I walk to the kids’ school in the morning and go to the gym. The walk is only 20 minutes away to pick up the kids in the arvo and then they have some free time and then its homework time – Ash is doing some science homework here on his bed with pictures of friends and family on the wall for inspiration, including his Serama chicken Darkstalker. Later in the evening on cooler days when I can put the oven on I made this tasty silverbeet and heirloom cherry tomato pie. I am loving the food from Ceres Fair food as it is organic, fresh and local for most of their produce. They have an excellent selection of kombucha and non-meat products too which I love so that is my fruit and veggie shop sorted with the added bonus of the delivery to the door. Other bits and pieces I can get at Woollies and other places are a 10-minute walk away. I love this area as everything is so convenient. We don’t have a car as yet so with all this walking I am getting plenty of exercise and enjoying the sunshine and fresh air.

With time off from University, I now have time to go through all our stuff! I moved all the boxes from under the bed and now we are sleeping on the floor on a mattress just like student days – lucky its only short term! Anyway, I am taking the Swedish death cleaning approach and thinking that I have not cared about this stuff for the last 12 years so then why keep it anymore. I found cassettes and business cards that are going to the recycling next week – I do not even have a tape recorder so why keep them! There were a lot of business cards and told a story of my other life before kids as a designer and freelancing around Melbourne. It was interesting to look over them and see the names of people who I met at Uni and work, so it was helpful for me to think yeah that is where most of my friendships with peeps began.

The major reason why my post is late this week is that I have been going through a moving box full of photos. It has been exhausting going through all the memories some good and some not so good. Again I thought why do I keep these pictures as it will just be for my kids to clean up when I am gone and they will just chuck it all away, this way I can hopefully recycle it all including the negatives? This is just a handful of the photos I am sending away. Sitting there looking through the travel memories have been great thinking wow I really did that when I was only 23, I am a huge proponent for travelling when you are young as it helps you see the world to open your mind to so many life experiences. It really helped pave the way for my artistic career at the beginning with photography and writing. I also have a lot of 35mm slides and maybe I can make a light fitting out of them or repurpose them somehow – there are many ideas on Pinterest, so next time I have time to craft that is my next project. As for the photos they can go – the memories were great and now it is time for a new phase in my life.

A venomous friend

It has been one month back home in Australia already and the time has flown by. This relocating business has really been intense! I have completed my draft for my last assignment which is two lesson plans for Teaching Science and Technology, so now to proofing and getting it submitted while the kids are at school so I can enjoy some free time. Nope, the kids are still at home on school holidays as the school has two pupil free days and the kids are back on the 31st! Sounds like I am counting down and yes I am as the time is coming that I will really lose my shit as this solo parenting this is getting stale!

I have had to get up early and take morning walks around the neighbourhood to keep my mind in a sane state of being and my Qi Gong really helps but not having one minutes peace is really starting to grate on me. Even when I try to get them to bed early they are still chatting, god help me when school starts and I have to get them out the door in the morning?!?

As I am walking around these gorgeous streets of my hood full of so many homes with character, I am taking pictures of how I imagine our garden to be when our remodel is underway. The succulent garden above is just superb as an addition to the streetscape outside someone’s house, the little rocks super easy to care for but not so good for scratching chickens in the garden? I have fallen in love with the princess gum tree as we need to choose a tree for our garden as part of the plan, the flowers on the tree are stunning. Hopefully, it will work out though at 6 metres tall it may be too big? We will see – I am so excited about the remodel and being back at the house is really making me think how amazing it will be when it is finally done.

We have a little venomous friend out the front of our house – she is a Redback Spider – here she is with her little woolly ball egg sac fully of 250 spiderlings. She is a very protective mama of her little spiderlings and we see her come in and out of her hiding spot about 8 feet above us in the eaves of the front of the house. One day she will die (they can live for up to 2 years) but for now, I am respecting her space and letting her be, the Redback will bite if disturbed but otherwise they live in peace and we can leave her alone. I was a bit concerned about the spiderlings so I contacted the Melbourne Museum and they said the spiderlings take to the wind on little threads of silk and find other places to make webs and survive – that is if they survive. It is funny when I first saw her I wanted to kill her but now I am protesting for her life and the kids were trying to buy bug spray at the supermarket today, thing is you can kill this one but there are more spiders out in the garden and around the house so they will always be there. At least we can observe her and see what she gets up to in her little safe haven – catching other insects for us while she is up there.

Hello, shit show!

Another week has gone by an maybe I should be laughing and feeling so happy but instead, I am slowly being driven insane by the children and annoying things that do not work! Today I have dealt with trying to connect the internet in my lil old house and instead of being able to plug the cable in and getting it going I am dealing with a truly incompetent company who is the telecommunications giant known as Telstra. They are absolutely useless and I have wasted so much time and money trying to get my internet sorted in a timely manner. It is so frustrating and I understand that this is an old house and the phone line needs to be activated to use an ADSL modem but there was a problem with the exchange but when the Telstra tech (contractor paid $71 a call) came by to connect my modem – he waved at a couple of wires and off he went. I had to pay an independent technician to look and see if there is a problem with the line on the premises or outside and that was not cheapWTF! We had cable in the States as we did not have a direct link to ADSL and it was always good and it felt like the superhighway compared to the shit internet service here in Australia that is driven by politics and it is so, so sad! I just wish they would get themselves together and think of the future and how good it could be if they were not bickering over fibre optic and copper cabling, such a shit show.

I need a good cuppa tea after all that craziness – I am having to use the hotspot on my phone to connect to the outside world which is lucky. At least when I am at my house there is a bunch of stuff to sort through and find such as this peaceful prose. I love the meditation reference to using a pedal sewing machine, We simply let it be. Aaah if it was not for meditation I would be very, very mad.

Going through my stuff has been quite fun but there is so much crap to sort through and donate, give away or recycle. I found so many sewing patterns and whittled them down to just a few but hopefully they will fit me still! The dollar bill has a hummingbird on it which connects to my love of those little hummers. Plus it was so good to find pictures of artwork from a show I did with my sister many moons ago, I had screen printed bags and made them for the art exhibition. I remember selling a few but not all of them, the cat/fox screen print was pretty cute and my fave is the “earth astronaut” screen print on the multicoloured bag.

As I was going through bits and pieces before we moved back to our place to settle I found these great illustrations Ash had made at the NGV of his best friend Mack – our beloved cat who passed away a couple of years ago. This home in Melbourne is where he lived with us when we had carpet throughout the house and he and Scrappa hung out together with baby Ash.

Oh and what a find, today as I was looking for some more crockery I found an old box of silverware – this is my dream set of cutlery and I was very excited to find them. They belonged to my father in law (who passed away 10 years ago). They were in a big box full of a set of fancy crockery with illustrations of farm animals and right at the bottom was this box of silverware – now my dream of owning a lovely cutlery set has come true!

Just two weeks until my next assignment is due but with the palaver of all the crap with the internet and moving back and forth from my friends housesit to our place plus helping the kids hook up DVD players and VCRs life has been full. The kids will be back at school on the 31st so I am looking forward to a routine so I had better get my arse into gear and make shit happen so I can get that assignment worth 30% of two lesson plans uploaded to Uni.

Treasure or trash – seeing the light after 12 years

Last week we hung out in our house awaiting the old and the new. First I had to get a fridge and washing machine delivered to the house but because the door frame at the house is so tiny the fridge would not fit through the door! Drama #1 meant what do I do about getting a monolith fridge into a small house? Luckily we had some quick thinking delivery dudes who called up their mate to come and take the doors off the fridge and bring it into the house! Next was Drama #2 the shipping container that held a box of our stuff from 12 years ago!! The kids were very excited as they thought there might be some treasure in those boxes but no – they were disappointed as the boxes were mostly full of trash – oops I mean, memories and mementoes of our past life. Funny thing is we have lots of book boxes that I am using as a bed base for now – so I don’t need to look through them. Plus there are so many VCR tapes but luckily I found someone who can recycle them and take most of this stuff away.

We have been enjoying our little day trips into the city by train as it is only 30 minutes away and so easy to get to. The Australian Open is in full swing today so we got in nice and early so we could go to the NGV to see the Escher exhibition nice and early Between Two Worlds.

Going to an exhibition with the kids can seem a bit daunting especially when they go in and are not so thrilled to wander in a crowded space and look at the art on the walls. This exhibit was different as it began with a digital walkthrough in the dark to the beginnings of Escher’s work by travelled through each space or period of his life. For me it was so exciting to actually see these prints in real life! I have been a long time Escher fan stemming from my background in Graphic Art.

A space that I loved was the Transforming House space where the houses were designed and inspired by tessellation. It is phenomenal how the elements of negative and positive space within a tessellation mess with your mind. This is a lesson of instructions Escher created to share to students on a complex design on tessellations.

Gathered House was another fave space of mine where I felt totally disorientated as to where I was going next. It was an installation in a circular room where you looked at the artwork on many perspectives to form the shadow of a house it was so incredible when you look at the detail of die cut paper.

Soon it was time to end the exhibition which was sad, I will have to say it has to be one of the best exhibitions I have been to in a very long time! The whole immersion of the space and the artwork including a soundscape and a video really captured the feeling of each period in Escher’s artistic path. At the end of the exhibit, before we hit the gift shop there was a room dedicated concept pieces for the nendo art spaces and his overall theme of the house shape (I bought a cap for the memories). In the end, the kids were so excited to share their pictures with their dad and friends and loved the whole experience, they especially loved the interactivity of the exhibit and that is something we all loved by being able to play in the space.

It has been two weeks back and I am happy to say that everything is falling into place with where we are going to be living including our plans for our house build and the kids’ school. I still have to motivate myself to study but for now, I got an extension on my essay as I am taking breaks in between organising the move into our house. Still, it is so hot that it is nice to stay inside in the air conditioning. Next stop study and for brain breaks, it is will be time in the garage sorting through stuff! Anyone looking for some crystal glasses? How fancy!

Settling into our new life

Our first week back was extremely productive unlike Mouse the cat (my sister in laws cat) here who is having a great little nap! We decided that we would move back into our yellow house until we get the OK for the builders, this is good in itself as I am gathering paperwork e.g. bills in my name for when we finally go and find a rental property.

Our house is so cute and it was so funny when I walked through thinking – hey this is like looking through a rental property, so why am I looking for a place when this is vacant! It was thanks to my sister in law to help me get my head around it all and relieve the stress of not having to find a rental property in 20 days! Anyway, the kids are pretty bored as I am having to study in between catching up with friends (they play with my friends’ kids) so they are screening it up either on Netflix, the small screens or the computers but I have an essay due on the 16th January so I gotta get into gear!

Last week I arranged to turn on the gas, power and water, bought a new fridge and washing machine and many other household items, organised the insurance for the house, got hooked up to the internet and did a huge grocery shop. There’s still a fair amount to do but I am staying at my friend’s place house sitting while they are in NZ and they have stuff in their house to use until I get back to our house. Starting all over again is huge and the next big ticket item is a car but that requires a fair amount of research and time which I do not have at the moment with my Uni deadline fast approaching.

We stayed at my sister in laws place for a few days before heading on over to my friends house and Missy did a bit of pasta making. She made linguine with my sister in law and it was just delicious with prawns and asparagus in a creamy sauce – yummo! The meat eaters ate a bolognaise mince sauce. The Kitchen Aid Artisan to make fresh pasta is $800 here so we will hold off for a while until all the other outgoing finances to set up are out of the way!

And along came the hottest day we have ever felt in ages! On Friday it went up to 42 degrees and man it was brutal. I found it really hard to focus as it was so hot and could not do my studies as I was wanting to hang out in the air conditioning and do nothing then towards the end of the day the temperature dropped 20 degrees and it was thundering and raining. Since that day the weather has been gorgeous mid-20s and a cool breeze. It has been so fun to hang outside on the deck with friends and drink tea or study.

As I am house sitting for a friend I am checking out a new part of Melbourne and it is great as I have found a library and an excellent Sri Lankan cafe selling pan rolls and many other delicacies – so that was our treat over the weekend. Missy found a meat pie at the amazing grocery market La Manna and we found a cray cray down at the park. This graphic novel Trish Trash is so fun and I could not resist when I found it at the library, hilarious!! I will have to read it once I get a study break.

It has been quiet here but I like it for a change as my mind has been so full of lists and getting organised to leave a country and start a new life. I am enjoying some time out and I feel like my body and mind needs a bit of a rest. Even though I am still studying and organising house stuff the Australians make it so much easier with their relaxed demeanour and their proactive attitude to get shit done that I really miss! Time to get back to business and catch up on my studies as I have a trip to the city tomorrow to meet a friend at the National Gallery of Victoria for a bit of play – yay!

The wonderful world of Oz

It has been only 4 days since we flew into Melbourne and separated our little Peach family as my hubby is taking care of business back in Cali so he can join us in April 2019. He will visit us in February and enjoy the time when the kids start their new schools and we will be in our rental house for the next 12 months. My mission for the first couple of weeks this year is to find a place to live that is close to the schools and the shops.

Bye bye baby girl Bella, this sweet kitty is enjoying all my woollen pieces while I was getting myself organised to head on back to Australia – she will join us in April 2019 when she is free to come here after all her rabies meds have taken effect and she has followed the whole procedure to get back to Australia. She will spend 10 days in quarantine and she will be back home with us, I have tried to FaceTime her but she is a bit confused 😦

So many goodbyes to San Francisco even to our lovely little (chicken) ladies protesting for Goji Berries. We had a relaxing 15-hour flight from SFO with Qantas with the sweetest crew as a wonderful intro to our time home.

After a couple of days of feeling out of it we finally got round to New Years Eve with our family and enjoyed a delicious feast of smoked salmon, prawns, salads and pavlova for dessert. We are loving all the animals here with the dogs, cats and the chickens. It is so good to be back and feel grounded back home with my sister in law.

For new years day we all hiked at Mount Macedon and just to be in the bush and smell the trees and air made me feel so good. I realised I was home in nature and am looking forward to so much more exploring this beautiful country. Funny we had not experienced it before as our life was about hanging in the city, drinking at bars and going to the movies. Now with kids life is so different and we are ready for adventures and to replicate the camping and exploring we have experienced in California.

These beauties live on the farm where my sister in laws horses live. I see the unicorn horse, the beautiful pony and the cool horse with the fly mask. We are all looking forward to 2019 with so much excitement in our new lives back in Australia.

One day to go!

A good cup of tea is what I am needing each day as now I have just one day until we fly away! The last month has disappeared so fast with parties, travel, coffee and tea with friends, drinks and dinners. Last week I enjoyed more yoga classes than usual which helped me get myself organised about the move. There has been so much to do and the house is taking shape with stuff to be shipped, stuff to be donated/given away and luggage packed for the next 5 months until our stuff is shipped from SF. Whew, it has been quite a trek and the kitchen was organised by my hubby the other day when he said we need to minimise the number of bowls to useful items which I have to agree. My friend has the Vitamix and another friend has my food processor so it looks like I will be researching the Thermomix when I get back to Oz, my sister in law has one so I will be taking notes.

As we did not want to get stuff for Christmas we enjoyed our last family experience at Montalvo Arts Centre to see Bruce Munro Stories in Light. I really loved it though it was a bit chilly in the evening being there for the 7pm showing. It is a self-guided tour of the grounds with so many beautiful installations providing many photo opportunities. The scale of some of the pieces is breathtaking especially Reepicheep’s Wave. I am quite a fan of all the pieces and one of my faves was definitely Gathering of the Clans inspired by the artists time in Sydney with Hills Hoists and fluorescent acrylic pegs and the recordings of cockatoos.

It has been a low key couple of days but I have needed it to research my next essay for school for Teaching Science and Technology. It is a bit tough trying to find the headspace to study with everything else going on but I will get there as the essay is due January 14. I should have my draft done and maybe I will work on the 15-hour direct plane trip to Melbourne, I have a couple of knitting projects to do and have packed 3 bags so far – I hope it all fits in the car! Here’s to our new adventures back home in Melbourne 😀