Dandenong Ranges Homeward via Heide – Day 4

As we checked out of our Charming Pioneer Cottage Air Bnb on Thursday we got to feed the sheep some apples one last time. These guys are middle eastern Damara sheep and are the lawnmowers of the property! We got to feed them in the morning and gave them a treat of some bread which they loved. We enjoyed such a relaxing stay with our wonderful host Libby (who also is a children’s book author), it was a perfect place for the three of us and we felt safe in amongst the sounds of the noisy cockatoos and trees.

I had planned for our drive home to stop off at the Heide Museum of Modern Art where I met my friend who lives close by. We stopped by to check out more art and enjoy some picnic snacks from a bakery across the road. It was the perfect little stop for our drive back to return our Car Next Door car share back to its spot.

Checking out what we experienced it was an art focussed family getaway to refresh and restore ourselves before we hit the next phase of our time in Melbourne in our rental property and our family is reunited again in a couple of weeks!

William Ricketts Sanctuary – the Dandenongs Day 3

To visit this sanctuary it will take your breath away with its dedication to the plight of Indigenous Australians by the sculptor William Ricketts. According to the video interview, William’s spirit animal was the Lyrebird where you see him dance as a Lyrebird sharing his inspiration and love for the earth and Indigenous Australia. I loved his sincere dedication as being the channel to share this art with the world. This sanctuary is a place of beauty, contemplation and peace where you are surrounded by a history of Indigenous Australia. Where the connection to the earth is fully present in what we need to see today, this sanctuary is something humanity has dealt with – the cruelty of colonialism. But breaking through the ugliness of this is the beauty in people and hope that we can exist on this earth together with nature.

After our William Ricketts experience we drove down to Birdsland Reserve to have a picnic lunch and go for a wander around the waters where we found a heron and a cormorant. Our Air Bnb host said to arrive there early in the morning or later in the afternoon to see lots of kangaroos. But as our day panned out we were there in the middle of the day and as we sat down at our table we were immediately surrounded by kookaburras! As Missy was about to eat a hot cross bun a kookaburra swooped down and landed on our table, we took one look at that beak and decided it would be safer to move somewhere else away from this wild kookas as I had heard they will steal snags from the BBQ.

After the Rone exhibition we went on the Sherbrooke Falls hike where we wandered on a small 45 minute walk in amongst the trees to see a little creek and find the small waterfall. I was thankful as our host told us not to expect Niagara falls which helped curb the excitement! The kids loved these very friendly Rosellas, due to humans feeding these guys over the years they have learnt to be trusting of humans and come very close to see if they can score some food.

Rone Empire in the Dandenong Ranges – Day 2

These pictures capture our time in this incredible exhibition experience! I have never experienced anything like this before in my life with the way that artists collaborated in such a way that you felt that you were among someones life left long ago, love that has been lost and left behind to wither over the ages. It was absolutely breath taking in its grandeur and the organic elements within taking over the house was something so unexpected and worked so beautifully. The addition of the technology element with augmented reality where you could see how the space was before it had been transformed through to the end of the exhibition with a gallery space and a virtual reality film where you felt immersed in the whole process of transformation. I was so happy to experience this with the children they just loved it too and were there with their phones capturing their favourite elements of the exhibit right down to the details.

Here you see the augmented reality and the way the room looked before it was transformed into the sun room space complete with a knitting bag. The hallway arbour of sticks was stunning and felt so natural in the space. I was chatting to one of the exhibition people and they were saying as it is a heritage building it is going back to the way it was before and apparently in the future it will be a fancy hotel.

Dandenong Ranges getaway Day 1

The inspiration for our little getaway over the school holidays was to go to see the Rone exhibition at the Burnham Beeches mansion in the Dandenong Ranges. My friend had shared some of his work on Instagram and as soon as the show was announced here I was on it! So I got a rental car and drove up carefully – the first time I have driven on the left hand side of the road in years to our little Air Bnb for the week.

Our first stop before check in was Grants picnic ground where you can get delicious pies for a late lunch and go and feed some cockatoos for $4 for plate of seed. The kids loved it and so did I and I was blown away to experience so many cockatoos in one place. After our fun with the birds we wandered over to the forest where you can get a glimpse into the feel of the National Park and it was absolutely divine to be amongst the giant Mountain Ash and huge ferns. I have not been hiking in Australia in 12 years and my experiences have been in amongst the redwood forests of Northern California, it was so good to be home amongst the trees again!

Oz Birthday Celebrations

Geez it has been a whirlwind couple of weeks and I totally missed my birthday celebration post! So here it is, as a quickie. I spent my first birthday in Australia for the first time in 8 years off to the optometrist to get some new glasses and grab a lovely Vietnamese lunch. I also enjoyed the treat of going to a brow bar to get my eyebrows waxed and dyed. In the arvo I came home and chatted my afternoon away to my friends (a call from CA) and family for birthday calls, until the kids came home. Then it was time for beet birthday cake and what cake fail that was! I loved the birthday candles and the song from the kids but the cake really needed a food processor and not a Nutri Bullet to get the right consistency, oh well live and learn. Now the beet cake has transformed into beet brownies.

Later in the evening I met friends at a bar which we soon realised was not very kid friendly as there were people smoking weed out the back so we hightailed it for something a bit more vegetarian and celebratory – The Vegie Bar in Fitzroy. I had not been there in years, and it was so good. The cool thing is that it has been around for 30 years, even before everyone was eating plant based. I enjoyed some vegan udon noodles with a ginger cocktail on the side and my friends and fam enjoyed a burger, nachos and pizza. They also some some delicious gnocchi on the menu that I will try next time I am there. Afterwards it was ice cream time next door at Girls and Boys where there were vegan treats, so good to have vegan ice cream though my hubby will not agree but I promised him a dairy based ice cream when he comes back to Australia at the end of April.

Oh and another reason why I have not been up to date with this was that as soon as my birthday was over I had to hit the books and complete my paper for Uni. Now I am procrastinating and writing this!

Celebrations

Whoa what a week it has been with Missy’s 11th birthday over the weekend and we started the weekend with a vanilla mud cake topped with unicorn sprinkles and the best rainbow glitter candles! It was a huge day and we had a tasty Mexican lunch at Hotel Jesus in Fitzroy, it is a perfect place for brunch. The Oaxacan feast was the best – my friend and I enjoy the vegetarian feast!

After our Mexican lunch, we went across the road to Gelato Messina and the most amazing ice cream ever. Definitely a place to check out if you love ice cream, I first found their ice cream cones at the supermarket as I was drawn to the design on the packaging and they were divine. It was also the big day to buy a birthday present from mum and dad and she wanted a short scale bass case. Who know they were hard to find! So we went to Manny’s – a well known music store and then they had cases but for regular size guitars. They were not working out, so my friend offered to drive us to South Melbourne to the Bass Centre to pick up the case they had in stock – mission accomplished! After all this excitement we had to end the day with a lovely cup of tea – Rooibos (bohemian rhapsody) and some sweets in South Melbourne at Bibelot a beautifully designed French patisserie, just like Alexanders Patisserie in Mountain View – it bought back so many memories!

Then Monday came around and it was time for camp for Missy and a Taro Latte for Ash as he got to hang out with Mum solo for 2 days. I was chatting to a parent friend of mine at the primary school and they said the kids were flat out with their activities at camp – making a raft, enjoying a disco, going for a night hike, jumping on the water trampoline and making damper (and burning it!). Lucky kids, it sounds like such a fun camp!

Tough times

Well what can I say about last week is that all I got to do was get into my little routine of going to the gym every day except Saturday and study every day! That was the plan but as it turned out the weekend was no study time as we had to run errands on Sunday to get stuff for Missy’s camp at the Yarra Valley and eat ramen in the city. Saturday I had to talk to a builder and get a couch delivered, so good to have a couch that I have borrowed from my friend.

Life has been very boring of late as I have two very heavy subjects and lots of reading. I have assignments due – one this week and one next week and I am trying to get it all done so I can go away for our little Easter break at the Dandenong Ranges to see Rone and play in the forest for a while! I really have to have some goals at the moment as the solo parenting is taking its toll on my mind and time. Lucky for the gym as that really helps with getting out and doing something otherwise the week flies by with study and if I am lucky a bit of crafting at night as it is hard to focus on reading, let along writing something sensible. I went to the craft store on the weekend to get some yarn and supplies so I can craft on a whim.

The kids are doing well at school though they say they are bored so I feel that it could have been better for them if we stayed over in the States, especially at our wonderful elementary school. Thing is if you are used to a progressive approach to education it is a hard to compare it to anything else. As the kids are at public schools here which look good to me but I am not at school everyday so maybe they just need more challenge? It could be that one is a tween and the other is a teen and all they want to do is be on the screen – aaargh my greatest enemy/friend. I use my machine to study each day so it hard for me to model good screen time behaviours but these two are on them as soon as they come home from school and until I turn the wi-fi off at 8pm. I have had to unplug the wi-fi but I need more strategies to get these kids to do something else! They get their chores done but then what? We had a great time when we first moved in to our house and we played Exploding Kittens everyday after dinner until they got sick of it but I think we will have to start again just to have some quality family time.

I still am looking for my peeps and I feel like a stranger in a strange land. Repatriating is tough and I had read about how it feels in books but it is not until you are in the situation you realise that you have to start all over again from scratch. Well at least I have some family and friends here I can call upon, but now that school is happening again the weekends for a lot of them are playing sports. It has been 3 months since I left California and I would like to get out more but I really don’t have time to spare with having to study at every moment I can find. I need to make more goals of hanging with friends for study break times and just get out an about. The kids don’t help as everything I suggest to day trip to they say, “oh that’s boring!” Maybe I was like that when I was young and just wanted to play Nintendo all the time?

At least this weekend we have a plan to go to Fitzroy for Mexican food at Hotel Jesus for Missy’s 11th birthday and go out for some ice cream at Gelato Messina and then to the music shop to get the birthday prezzie of a bass guitar case – good times here we come, now that is a great goal to work towards!

Saving the Planet one rally at a time!

So last week I went to my first rally in Australia – it was so good as it was an organised kids rally known as the Strike for Climate Change. The (high school) kids were encouraged to take a day off school to go to the city and get out in the streets to say to the Government stop, look, listen this is our planet and you are screwing it up. The numbers according to the Climate Rally Facebook page was around 30,000 people in Melbourne. I had such a fun time making the signs and the kids made theirs too as soon as they got home after their morning tea at school. The signs were very creative and it was such a wonderful energy to be out in the streets with little kids in strollers, kids at primary school to kids in high school! We as humans need to keep this energy going and tell the governments to stick the coal back in the ground – it is time to rise up and take notice of what is happening around the world. No use sticking your head in the sand and selling off our country for piece meal resources because I know when it is election day this year I will not be voting for the current political party – they have given me many reasons not to vote for them!

As we were coming back home on the train with the kids I took them down Hosier Lane in the city for a bit of street art inspiration!

Oh and I wanted to share some insights about how I like to save the planet:

  • Reduce, reuse and recycle – OK we hear this all the time but the idea is to reduce the amount of stuff we consume. My focus is on food, so each week I plan our meals and make sure I keep the leftovers for lunch. For the last three months I have been living very minimally out of two suitcases and using stuff that was given to me in my storage from 12 years ago and it works.
  • I have discovered some basic essentials to live; here is what I have been using in the kitchen… I love our economical fridge at 490 Kilowatts a year, our gas stove, glasses, teacups, a crockery set, rice cooker, cast iron pan, Nutribullet (great for the fruit you buy in bulk), toaster, soda stream (from my friend) and kettle. I don’t have a saucepan as I use the rice cooker to cook pasta, rice, quinoa, couscous and boiled eggs (who knew!), cutlery and of course food items to your liking.
  • Recycle – Think about your rubbish and recycle what you can – even recycling bread bags and lightweight plastic at the supermarket. Nearly everything has a number on it for recycling which makes it easy. For extra textile scraps I use it to stuff pillows and for rags.
  • Food – I like to support local food suppliers and Ceres Fair Food is my favourite as I can get everything that a vegetarian would love! Their selection includes pantry items as well as local fruit, vegetables and eggs – it is so good to support the local farmers and community jobs. Of course I will go to the supermarket to get extras like ice blocks for the kids and sustainably sourced seafood
  • Clothing – Now being here and living out of the supplies I bought with me from our move from California in my two suitcases have been expanded by going to the second hand shop and buying jeans or t-shirts and up cycling to create something unique to you. Obviously sewing skills are necessary so I plan to do some classes with the local community in the future. Now my quirky wardrobe has been expanded to included a few more mid season pieces for Autumn.
  • Home decoration – Well to add some life to our house I have screen printed (it helped that I had some screen printing supplies in my stash of crafting supplies!) some denim to make very durable pillows for the couch and I used my excess fabric from sewing to make a patchwork pillow. This week I wanted to make a crystal hanging so I crocheted a piece of wood from the garage to make a wall hanging for some hooks that were looking bare. All you need is a bit of imagination and some bits and bobs hanging around the house and some creative energy.
  • Getting around – as my hubby is not too keen to get a car at the moment I have registered for Car Next Door so I can borrow neighbours cars to get around. So it is possible but most likely costly in the long run to hire cars and take taxis when the public transport is not working in your favour. I am getting a lot of exercise walking everywhere. To get into the city or to friends places there is the train and tram. I am patiently awaiting the arrival of my beloved bicycle so I can get to the gym quicker! I was pretty impressed on the cross trainer the other day when I increased the resistance and it said I saved 19 minutes energy to power on a 4.9 kilometre walk/run.

It has been an interesting with being back home for nearly three months and living this minimalist lifestyle has taught me you don’t need too much stuff to get by day to day if you have family and friends to help you get organised. Next thing I need to deal with is all the stuff that is coming here by ship, yikes!

Check out the video of the death of this spider when she came down too close for comfort the other day!

Oh and the Redback spider came down from her web the other day and is now toast!

Wanderings

Over and out for now with my crafting and sewing and to wrap it up I collected all the pieces from my work and made a another pillow which is stuffed with the smaller scraps as a memento of my time with my machines. I am now back to studying two subjects Developing Literacy and the Theories of Teaching and Learning both have a LOT of reading and now I am in planning mode so I can get my assignments done on time and balance the rest of my life living as solo parent with two tweenagers.

Last week was a long weekend so we went and did some house research as we are going to leave our lovely house sometime in the near future for the remodel. So as we were in a different part of the neighbourhood we checked out an amazing cafe The Boot Factory on Pentridge Boulevard. The crushed avocado, preserved lemon whipped ricotta with a poached egg was divine and their coffee was the best I have had so far. My favourite part of lunch was the vintage inspired decor complete with comfy couches and old wooden chairs and this gorgeous table lamp. I will have to visit again soon!

This lovely dress is from the same pattern a 1970s dress that was paired with the skivvy on the pattern picture so I thought excellent it can be layered or not for the changing weather. The dress was created for an up-cycled sari fabric which was once a maternity skirt. With the swing in the A-line, I felt it needed pockets so I added a couple of decorative pockets – I would not put my phone or anything valuable in there but it is fun for your hands!

This dress was another old pattern from the late 1990s I reckon that I used to wear a lot in many fabrics back in the day as it is pretty versatile. The skirt of the Japanese fabric was sewn together randomly and saved from the landfill as it was older and stained so I screen printed over the discolouration on the fabric pieced it together and voila a skirt with a top made from a $4 XL t-shirt.

The grey dress is a $2 Muse concert t-shirt cut up and mixed up with the XL tee and the skirt is from a dress I wore for my 30th birthday at Misty bar in Melbourne which is now permanently closed. It’s location was on the very cool Hosier Lane which is a huge tourist attraction with street art covering the walls of the laneway – I may have to go and check it out again and perhaps finally go to Movida to eat. This pattern is super comfortable and works well on hot days.

Looking around the neighbourhood I found the Penal Establishment of Pentridge with its bluestone walls and behind this huge entrance is another development with apartments and I am looking forward to how this all looks in the future with its inner city high density vibe going on. I love how heritage listed elements are combined with modern urban architecture.

Better get back to work as I have a couple of kids wanting the day off school so they can strike for Climate Change. It should be big with many kids taking time off school to show the government what they stand for as it is their future after all. Last rally I attended was the Womens March in San Jose, looking forward to my first rally back in Australia!