Community connections at last!

So what has been happening for the last couple of weeks? I have been neglecting my weekly blog writing and in its place has been assignment writing. Plus, I have been wrapping up the school holidays with balancing study, so time was not on my side to do anything other than academic writing! Still my daughter and I managed to get out one afternoon to a cat cafe (which houses rescue cats) and we now have a new addition in our household, Apricot. She is such a sweetie and we love her.

For my assignment I had to design environments for early childhood and primary school. The early childhood environment I created is an outdoor playground with a focus on sustainability and Indigenous education. My indoor environment is a Reggio Emilia inspired play space to allow for open ended play. I had to teach myself Adobe Illustrator, Photoshop and Indesign again – thank goodness for YouTube tutorials. Here they are, I really loved the creative side of this project and adding the theory to connect the information was fascinating. In the end, it was a beautifully laid out 21 page document including all the references. For me, this was a fourth year elective unit and by the end of it all I was pretty impressed that I came through thoroughly enjoying it but it was a lot of work!!

So much work to create this, but I learnt so much from it! There are some incredible resources out there, especially here in Australia.
A lot of my inspiration here came from my time when I worked at a Reggio inspired school in California.

Apart from writing and adopting a new cat I have also been wrapping up my media content creation unit. This was an elective I chose to take as I needed to take some electives as part of my education degree. I have to say it was a refreshing change to read up about audio, photography and video and you can see all my work in this portfolio that I created. My last project was a video project and I ended up shooting two videos and learned the importance of B roll footage (love new terminology) when creating a story. On my portfolio site I uploaded a story on an urban farmer in Melbourne at CERES and the other film, which is just over 1 minute long is about Second Stitch – more info below.

From their online page, “Second Stitch is a refugee and asylum seeker textile enterprise that operates out of New Futures Creative in Coburg. They offer clothing alterations, products & workshops”. Second Stitch also offers opportunities for the community to come by the studio to learn sewing skills at their Open seam, every Tuesday from 10am to 2pm. Plus at their shop you can purchase the items made by the artisans in the studio.

As I had some time in between editing video – on very exciting software, Adobe Premiere Pro 2020! I did my interview at Second Stitch with Rachel who works there as a trainer for the students teaching her students for their Certificate III Textiles and Clothing Production. Rachel is also a talented weaver, so in finding out more about this amazing space in my neighbourhood I am discovering some incredible artisans in the process. Now that I have some time off Uni, I will be hanging out with the people up in this incredible space to catch up on some sewing projects.

With all this work I have been doing for Uni, I have been making incredible community connections at the farm where I volunteer. And every month at the MakerSpace at the Coburg Library I will be doing a Crafternoon on a Saturday arvo, where I can gather up some community members to do some sewing or whatever they would like to learn. This Saturday there will a chance to make a double drawstring bag, where people can practice sewing in a straight line on the machines at the library.

It has been a pretty hectic two weeks and I am so looking forward to catching up to a bunch of stuff that I have not had time to do – like go to my acupuncturist, aaaah!

Holiday! celebrate!

I have been flat strap with my Uni work and my writing has been laying by the wayside! So now tonight chilling out watching a crap film with my fam bam I am finally catching up. Heres a collection of what we have been up to for the last couple of weekends. We have enjoying time at the NGV seeing the Keith Haring | Jean-Michel Basquiat exhibition and the Louise Weaver art exhibition at the Buxton Contemporary on the weekend of 11th January.

Last weekend we saw the KAWS exhibition plus the added bonus of a Commes des Garcons collection of clothes, videos and sounds and it was so fun to have a break from study. This week I have been busting some moves to get my last three assignments done and dusted – so it looks like I will be working tomorrow!!

Crafting in times of sadness, heals the soul

In times of crisis humans collectively get together to help each other and get stuff done! After feeling so overwhelmed at the mass destructions and loss with the Australian bushfires (that are still burning) I wanted to help. I saw online that the Animal Rescue Collective Craft Guild were looking for items for all the rescue animals, so I started doing a few at home. Later I discovered that our local library has a MakerSpace and asked if we could use the room and get a group together to sew for the animals. I was so excited when they said yes as long as I organised it. It was such a surprise that I have had to put study on hold for a few hours this week to make it happen. So I advertised on the Good Karma network and at the gym and got a group of 5 to 7 people for the three days this week to help out with ironing and cutting fabric donations and sewing on the four machines at the library.

While we were working at the library, the librarian shared the above article with us and it was so exciting to see the love for all the animals plus we got to confirm who we were sending the pouches too at our local hub in Melbourne.

So by the end of the week we have made close to 100 between our little group and have cut out some liners ready to go next week. We are planning to do some more sewing this week on Thursday and Friday to keep the momentum going! All with for the animals 😀

Oh and if you are keen to help the animals they need monetary donations to transport everything around this massive country of ours.

Now I better get back to my assignments and study for this week!

2020 – time to be brave and strong

Firework blur – New Years Eve in Melbourne reminds me of the many bushfire photos I am seeing in the media

The first post of the year is taking a stance on how I really feel about the state of the nation. I usually write in a neutral tone as I do not want to upset anyone, but this year I feel it is important to be brave and stand up for what I believe in. Now is not the time to give up or give in as Australia is on fire and the leadership in this country is pathetic and hopeless! I lived in America with that orange fool as the president and everyone in California felt the pain daily with no hope for reprieve. Now I have come back home to Australia with the hope of a little progression but alas there is none! Currently, the news is on the current bushfire crisis stating that these fires are unprecedented which means “never having happened or existed in the past”. The destruction of what is happening now cannot be compared to what has happened in the past but according to our PM ScoMo he has no idea and feels that Australians should just carry on and face the challenges as they have done in the past!

According to what I have read about the current state of the climate in Australia we are dealing with a national emergency. Today I checked my Instagram to see videos posted of victims of the fires in regional NSW and the PM going in to shake hands and apologise — seriously no amount of apologies will bring back the homes and livelihood of these people. ScoMo has no clue, as he speaks to one of the residents and says that these people who are now homeless, are tired! Yes, of course they are but they have also lost everything. Where is the empathy in this person and why can’t he listen to the scientists, the chief fire officers and environmentalists who are calling this a climate emergency. We have not even hit peak summertime and most of Australia is burning and it is only January.

The post below rings true of my time in America after mass shootings and the NRA with their stranglehold on guns but what is the driving force in Australia? Is it the natural resources and coal driving the agenda, heck there will be nothing left if the country continues to burn.

Source: The Guardian

Last night I found it hard to sleep as I got up in the middle of the night and started thinking how on earth can we find a solution to these losses. It is so hard to comprehend these tragedies and how we as a community can fix them. Yesterday we had a neighbour come by and collect food for people in the Gippsland fires in Victoria. She came by with a cart and asked if we had any food to share. This is what I love about community we come together to help each other, but knowing that this national emergency in Australia is hurting everyone in this country is so frustrating – what else can we do to help? Those poor defenceless animals as well.

When I couldn’t sleep, I had this picture in my mind of a fire fighter and a koala looking at this bushfire. I am finding it hard to concentrate when I know every time I look at the news something worse is happening! How much more can we take when the whole country is on fire even in places that were rainforests and beaches cannot escape the fires. There are tourist fleeing these places.

Extinction Rebellion states, “this is not business as usual” and this year it is the time to get these people in government who are blindfolded to notice what is actually happening. Carrying on like this level of catastrophe has happened in the past is just ridiculous and I will continue to write to my members of parliament and ask them to declare a climate emergency in Australia. This behaviour of ignoring the truth, will not be tolerated by our generation and generations to come we will continue to fight for our lives.

I remember living in Northern California when the wildfires destroyed thousands of homes and was spread over 99,148 hectares, the state was then declared a state of emergency by Governor Jerry Brown – the day after the tragedy! I remember the air quality living in the SF Bay area, the skies were misty and the EPA stated children could not go out to play (I was working at a school at the time). Now I am witnessing these horrific bushfires in Australia where just in Queensland alone 180,000 hectares have burned and that was November 2019. It is hard to even conceive the amount of land lost now in January 2020 as now the state of Victoria burns.

I am supposed to be studying but trying to focus is extremely difficult but I needed to write my thoughts down so I can process this nightmare to try and think of ways to help. I know that from Monday I will be volunteering with CERES, my favourite place to be in the north of Melbourne to help in their vegetable garden. Their mantra is fall in love with the earth again. When I am with others who fight for the cause at a local level it helps me process the bad stuff. Now to continue to study, I can promise my future students one thing is that they will be educated in climate change and science where everyone deserves the truth to do something positive for our future.

I am happy to have found some places where people can help with donations for people and animals in need:

https://www.facebook.com/arfsncrafts/?eid=ARBALQaZxuuxnXAi3_Vi73PpxB5Ldc7gNoy1z6xASmIsPoWeQOGrE2_W1N6mJ-Gb50-kwJjsgQZd746e

https://www.sbs.com.au/news/here-s-what-you-can-do-to-help-those-on-the-frontlines-of-the-devastating-bushfires

https://www.abc.net.au/news/2020-01-01/bushfire-relief:-how-you-can-help-frontline-services/11835156

https://chuffed.org/project/organic-farmers-bushfire-appeal

Wishing you a very merry Chrissy

Finally, I have some time to write what have been going on for the last couple of weeks. It seems like a while ago, so here goes! There has been a lot of awesome Chrissy celebrations with my work friends and then I got a cold from late nights studying writing an essay, going to work early, hanging out with kids and their germs and feeling run down. So last weekend was pretty quiet, which gave me time to catch up on wrapping prezzos and all that jazz. Then came the last week of my teaching placement, which was intense as it was all about wrapping up so all the kids work, placing their crafts in their goodie bags, getting the kids ready for the singing presentation to their families with a fabulous spread of food and saying goodbye to the kids who were transitioning to school. I have to say it was full on!

I have enjoyed my time in early childhood hanging out with the 3 to 5 year olds. The educators I worked with planned a tie dye afternoon so that the children could wear them for their performance, the one on the left is the one we all tied together with rubber bands for the kids and used the tie dye kit and the one on the right is using a food dye which worked just as well. It was very well executed where we used lids of big plastic boxes and the kids used the bottles of dye and just spread it on their t-shirts. You would think 3 year olds this is gonna be crazy but we managed to do it in a good amount of time and not much dye was on the kids, as for me I had blue hands for days!

The other fun project I managed to make with the kids was vegan gingerbread – this was a tricky one, as the dough was a bit dry as we could have messed up the ratio of flour to wet ingredients which was nut butter and golden syrup. This cooking project was with very enthusiastic 5 year old children who were eating the dough scraps that even fell on the floor. Their biscuits are cut out here and they were cooked but were quite dry when they came out of the oven, so it was certainly an interesting experience! Next time, I would consider smaller groups and doing the project multiple times.

The gingerbread house on the right is made by my daughter who loves to bake, she did this one over a weekend with making the gingerbread one day and the next day we researched the royal icing which would be the mortar to hold the house together. It was an very delicious recipe which is even better as we could snack on it after we took some pics.

I also finished my tree skirt for our makeshift tree this year! I managed to wrangle a bunch of leftover yarn to make this very colourful crochet tree skirt which is sitting underneath our stash of pressies this year. For a family who was pretty disorganised about Chrissy I feel we managed to get it together reusing the paper from our move gift wrap!

And our house is looking amazing, we can imagine checking out James working in his study, checking out who is coming to visit down our hallway, looking through windows while doing the dishes and looking up we have a roof! It is so exciting to see the progress since our initial deep dig in the ground and now the house is framed and ready for its details of the windows and doors, the black charred timber, weatherboard and brick for the exterior. The beautiful recycled timber Tasmanian Oak floors and the kitchen and bathroom with their terrazzo floors. We even went shopping for the kitchen yesterday and trying to find a stovetop and oven that will serve our cooking adventures, so good though so overwhelming!

Its time for a break now, so our builders will have time off and be back into it after New Years where we will see much more unfold. I am so happy to be back home and to be able to wish my friends a very merry Chrissy at long last 😀

Teaching Practicum and lots of crafting

So far over the last three weeks I have come home covered in glitter, glue, fabric dye, food dye and flour. I have certainly had a blast at this kindergarten teaching practicum and I have been lucky enough to be working with an amazing mentor teacher and co-educators. Life has been full on this week with completing an essay for a fourth year uni subject and having to go to work plus keep up with my other two subjects – I have to say I am feeling pretty tired. But tomorrow night I get to go out and have a drink or two with my work mates – yay!!

Oh and the cute bear on the glitter chair is one of the completed bears from the Year 5/6 cohort at my daughters school that I volunteer for, it came out so well.

So the kids have been so busy crafting and the windows are covered in so many Chrissy themed items, I am a bit of a fan of these stained cellophane windows which I had to cut out the other day with a scalpel, one of the joys of teaching! There has been so much glitter everywhere I go that I have had to dust it up and recycle it for another project, the kids go crazy with it!

Also the time we have in the arvo together to reset the class has been fun too. Recently we have been putting on music and getting everything prepped for the next class! I cannot believe I have been on my prac for 3 weeks already and it is nearly over. We were very lucky to have a dragonfly visit our classroom the other day when we were prepping the class, there are so many critters that come be as the creek surrounds the kinder. Across the road from my work, at the lake, is this amazing tree in bloom. It is a Silky Oak and I just love the flowers it produces as the colour is incredible. I had to look it up as I had no idea what it was and the flower reminded me of a grevillea so I did a internet search and finally found its name. Going for lunch by the lake, it is full of life with so many water birds and a perfect place to recharge when I am at the kinder for a full day.

Last Friday I met my friend in the city for a couple of drinks at an old favourite water hole in the city – Hells Kitchen. We used to head over there every week, when we worked in publishing and hang out and drink the night away before heading on the train – feeling quite happy! After our drinks we went across the way to have some delicious dumplings before checking out Federation Square and the Xmas tree and all the cool decorations. Its so good to be back in Australia for a hot Chrissy, though it is not feeling like summer at all with 18 degree celsius days.

And an update on our house, the carpenters have been super busy and have framed most of the house and now the scaffolding is up for the roof. Also there are a couple of windows in place with the curved walls downstairs, it is so close yet so far!! We are so keen to move in 😀

Working mum/teacher life and cat rewards

Finally taking some time out to write what I have been up to for the last couple of weeks! This is the first time in ages that I have posted intermittently here but life is a little bit busy at the moment. I am nearly half way through my first teaching practicum in Australia and I am just loving it. It is exhausting but the kids are so engaged and enthusiastic about everything, whats not to love! For my lesson with the kids I created a table with books, insects and magnifying glasses for the 5 year old class I am working with. It is called Insect Detective and since introducing it to them on Monday they were engaged in finding insects in the yard. We watched a video (the technology requirement for the AITSL teaching standards) and we were off into the yard with our clipboard, identification sheet and pencil to go out and count the insects in the yard. I have to say it was an astounding success as all the kids participated one way or another and it will create a connection to the natural world that makes you appreciate it that little bit more.

The rest of the time in my prac I have been observing the children, recoding conversations and making christmas crafts. I especially like this craft my mento teacher found where the kids went outside to collect sticks from the playground and then had to sort them in order from smallest to biggest. I love how it has a maths element to it and the kids were really enjoying it too, especially the last part where they get to decorate the tree with sequins and glitter. I have been coming home covered in glue, glitter, paint and dye and I cannot believe that you can be paid to hang out with kids and create! The cool thing is that this experience in early childhood is showing me how important early childhood educators can be for a little human, they are little sponges and the good behaviour that you model as a good citizen these children can replicate and this is where the magic happens. Humanity needs more places that are welcoming and diverse like the kinder I am working at and I am realising the profound impact an educator can have on children in their early years.

I am supposed to be writing an essay at the moment but I wanted a break from the grind and the opportunity to look at my life. Sunday I went to the Cat Lovers Show with the family. I was so excited to see the cats from Catmantoo and there was so much stuff to buy for cats as well. We found a great cat cafe near us in Preston, where we will get out next fur baby. It was a super day out with lots of cats but no pats! Well we could go to the adoption centre and pat some cats but that was a bit dangerous as we would love to adopt more kitties!

Busy little bee

Checking out what has been happening in my life over the last couple of weeks and it has been full! It has been over a week since I posted what has been happening here and since I had an assignment due last week and then I had to start drafting an essay with my hubby out of town there was a lot going on!

I have been enjoying the volunteering at my daughters school and seeing the progress of the kids felt animals! They came out so well, with each animal having a personality of their own 😀

Our house has made some incredible progress with the carpenters adding on Level 2 which is the kids rooms. We are so happy to see that there is so much happening on the build and we can start to get a feel for the place now.

This artwork had the best pun by Tinky the artist:-
It was a filthy job, but the rubbish removalists thought it was their best work yet.
Barek artwork on found signage
Sea spirit

Today, which is Sunday Funday, we enjoyed some family time out, before it goes all crazy for the next 20 days when I start work full time on my prac. Today was a lovely 24 degree day and we went out into Collingwood to Off the Kerb gallery to see the Barek exhibition that is showing for a short time. We so wanted to buy another piece of his work but as we have not unpacked what we already have in our art boxes for the gallery space in our house we decided we will go visit him in the studio when we see what space we have to jazz up. We all love his work and especially the pieces on the found signage.

I reckon there will be sporadic times of posting over the next four weeks, as I start my teaching prac for Uni where I have be documenting my experience constantly plus I have an essay to write for another subject and I have this great media unit I am doing at the moment too. So up until Chrissy it will be full on. Gotta get to bed early for my big week this week!

November and all the new things!

I cannot believe it is November already and that Thanksgiving is just around the corner! We will be celebrating in our own way this year and really missing our Thanksgiving get together in Oakland with our good friends. We will have to Facetime with them and share some love.

There were lots of new things happening over the last couple of weeks as my daughter was invited to go ice skating with her class. So, a school friends Dad drove us all to Docklands O’Brien ice rink for the afternoon. It was such a great opportunity to go ice skating! I have roller skated and roller bladed but I have never ice skated. Even when we were in California, we did not get around to it, even though the ice rink was in the next suburb. So my daughter got on the skates and no problem – she was even helping her friends get around. I got on with a very slow start and eventually I felt my balance on the skates and it was so much fun!! We are so looking forward to going ice skating again but at $50 for the two of us, it will only be on special occasions.

I have been volunteering at my daughters primary school to teach sewing to the kids. The art teacher at her school is doing textiles for the last term of school and I am helping out with the kids felt animals. This is what I used to teach the kids when I was in Mountain View California in the parent volunteer led Arts Focus classes. For the kids in years 5/6 we are doing the whole project from scratch where the kids trace their animal onto felt, cut them out, embellish the animal and this week they will be stuffing the animal learning the blanket stitch and whip stitch. It is so good to see how enthusiastic the kids are about the felt animal project. They want to keep the animal for themselves as they did have the option to make them for their prep buddy, instead now that they have practiced their own felt animal they will be given the opportunity to design another smaller one for their buddy.

The other good thing I have been becoming aware of now is the amount of fish that I am not eating. After watching the film Artifishal it has really changed my mind about consuming fish. Not only are fish stocks depleted, the fish farms pollute water, also what I found out on this documentary is that fish hatcheries in America breed fish to be distributed into local rivers where these fish breed with the wild fish. What happens to wild fish is that they become less resilient and disease spreads. This is an interesting site to check out for aquaculture in Australia.

So I have been slowly adding more plant based foods to our meals every day – which means soaking the chick peas, beans and eating lentils – there are so many varieties. There is still goat cheese in my bowls and I am not fully vegan but it is mostly vegetarian we are consuming at the moment. On the left is a couscous BBQ rub baked chick pea bowl with roasted beets and goat cheese. On the right is a deconstructed Japanese hand roll with sushi rice, vegetables, kimchi, and baked Tamari and SMALT BBQ rub tofu topped with Nori and a miso mayo sauce – yummo! Cooking dinner does require a bit of imagination and planning but I am making it work.

The huge excitement for our house is that the carpenters have been real busy and getting the framing in place and the house is starting to take shape even putting the second floor floor joists in as well. When we walked down the alleyway to check out house from the back we saw there was even a wall in place where the laundry and pantry will be. To see all this progress is fantastic and we are surely counting down the days until we move in.

The weather has been crazy here we are out on a balmy 25 degree evening flying the drone at the local park, it was beautiful. But today we have a high of 15 degrees and it is super cold. So the winter coat is still hanging at the front door and the beanie is there too for those cold southerly winds. Have a look at that gorgeous sky, its stunning!