Celebrations for the 13 year old

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What an epic week of celebrations with a last minute cake bake inspired by the Great British Baking Show. The bowl of the week was a Yakisoba inspired recipe minus the chicken and subbing in smoked salmon, which was a winner, winner chicken dinner for everyone – the things you do when you check out the back of a packet of soba noodles. I added in shitake mushrooms and some pickles, it was delish.

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We found this great book at the library called Bakeland jam packed full of inspiring baked goods with a Nordic influence. This is the cake we made but…

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This is the cake after we tweaked the recipe by making 3 layers and added a chocolate mousse cream topped with a raspberry icing. It was incredibly rich and fell apart when cut due to the dense cake of the brownie, what a great experiment.

The celebration is captured on video with the gang of 3 our overnight guests for an intimate sleepover doing things teens do like play computer games, watch Spaceballs, play computer games, eat chips, play computer games!

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As the cake was super rich in even the tiniest slice, the next day I put the cake in the food processor with some hemp seeds, dates and coconut to make the richness bite-sized. I rolled them up and put them in the freezer and they are now little pocket snacks of chocolatey goodness to keep you going during the day. Today I shared them with my friends for a sewing prep party and we got a lot of work done – yay!

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And to top off the good times of the weekend with the teens taking over the house my hubby made this crepe stack from Bakeland with blueberries – absolutely divine to indulge for a Sunday morning brekky.

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And there’s the soon to be 13 year old who has lived his whole life in California and is soon to live his teenage years back to where he was born – in Melbourne. Some fun times ahead for him though I can see that he will miss his buddies who we have all known for so long.

 

Lessons learned

I just completed a unit on Indigenous Education which has totally changed my viewpoint towards the importance of history. Viewing the suffering of the past on Indigenous tribes within Australia by the colonialists impacted my thoughts on white power and now white America, history is now repeating itself with this reign of racism by the orange man in power. One day we will look back on history and say WTH happened?

In my time in the US, my activist nature has been reignited and my thoughts on the future are away from here on a new adventure. Australia still has their fair share of idiots, so there is no escape. To cope with the madness in the daily news I have been very selective about what I read and focus on like minded peeps like folks at Penzeys Spices who have a lot to say about rights for all. In todays email I read:

At the heart of cooking is the belief that when we give of ourselves to help others the world becomes a better place. Through cooking we’ve come to understand the strength of kindness really can heal the world. The next great moment for kindness comes 11.6.18 on Election Day. Make your plan to vote, but please give thought to encouraging others to vote, too. You are a Cook, people look up to you. Your encouragement means everything. Let them know how important this election is. Help them put together the ingredients they need for a healthy and satisfying voting experience. You have the skills. You have the kindness. Please put them to good use. —Thanks!” (Penzeys Spices, 3rd Oct 2018)

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Getting rid of my spice collection

So what has inspired me to write about Penzeys and their amazing voice on activism is that I am clearing out my spice cupboard, the pic above is what is moving on. Thinking about spices and where they originate from is everywhere in the world and every day in the kitchen, we are creating multicultural links to the world. That is what makes me happy, the thoughts of going back to Australia and eating all the amazing cuisines that I miss especially Middle eastern food. Yeah, I get it in Sunnyvale but in my hood in Melbourne it is authentic.

Cleaning out my place and moving on is such a reflective experience where I feel I can look at many lessons learned from our time here. When I first moved here as a new mother I knew no one and over time and through community we now have friends and have met our people. It has been an interesting 12 years wavering from depression to joy – when I really could not wait to go back after 4 years but then we continued to stay as the kids were having an incredible school experience. I have enjoyed the journey of mother, wife, artist, business owner, volunteer and now a teacher in the time and it is now time to take my experience back home and share the basket of what my personal learning journey into another space in time. Growing up from the many experiences of the time here and moving home gives me a sense of peace – no more feeling angry and giving that privileged wanker in a BMW the finger anymore because I know our time is nearly done. And cheers to that!

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Celebration & good times

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Monday was my hubby’s birthday so I got rid of all the crap on the dining table and created this lovely posy of plants from the garden.

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This is one of my fave quiches to make for a special occasion – the Spinach Impossible Pie with crumbled feta, spinach, cheese and egg custard, made with a base from the pie book below so that was meatless Monday dinner.

I had to stop briefly in amongst my assessment writing over the weekend to get some celebrations happening for my hubby! I always love preparing a good feast for birthdays and the menu started on Sunday with a Strawberry Crumble pie – made from scratch with my kitchen helper Missy with a lemongrass cream, so divine!

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Heres the surprise birthday cake on a relaxed Sunday morning – well for some of us who did not have to get up early to make a birthday pie!

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This was hot out of the oven which is why there’s a piece of bread with candles to celebrate, it was super tasty and from my favourite pie book – A Year of PiesThe pie was meant to sit for an hour before we ate it but it was so good we tucked into it straight away!

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Oh, I always love a cocktail for a party so I made this watermelon fennel cocktail, it went down so well – the kids loved the juice, hehehe they had no idea about the fennel.

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This has been my number 1 drink for focusing, a nice cup of Matcha tea – discovered in Queensland with my sister. This is a coconut matcha which is probably way high in fat but if you are into Paleo this is the biz for you.

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The countdown has begun and as of tomorrow, I have 3 months left in the United States. I am getting rid of so much stuff and giving it away to neighbours who I don’t even know which is excellent as they are going to people who are happy to enjoy it. The shelves are emptying when I get need a brain break from study. My sewing and study room is slowly getting rid of fabric – I have a couple of projects before I put the machine and fabric away for the year. Our bedroom is getting rid of pictures and excess clothes – I still need to work on that space! The kid’s room is slowly getting there – though I have a plan to get rid of more stuff! The lounge needs to get rid of furniture but that will come later before we sell up and go. A plan is really starting to develop and I scored a great flight with taking myself and the kids back in December and my hubby will come for a trip in 2019 and then sell this place and come back for good.

So much stuff to do after living here for 12 years and it is strange to finally say I am going home to Melbourne FOR GOOD! It is so exciting as I am happy and things are falling into place. I have the kids enrolled in schools that I really like, one in primary and one in high school. The house remodel is still moving along and scheduled to start as planned. Once everything is a little settled maybe I could do a practicum for University at a primary school, it may have to wait another year until we have our house. I am so happy to be going back and finally be at home with my family and friends, the future is looking bright again!

 

Immigration stories

It was so good to have a mental health day away from studies over the weekend! It needed to happen as Uni has been pretty full on and now with booking my flight to arrive in Melbourne on the 29th December, its all starting to get real!

I went out for an SF stairs walk with my friends – we were doing the walk up to Telegraph Hill. First, we had to have something to eat so we found this incredible Mexican joint, Don Pistos on Union Street. There I discovered spiked horchata – that is spiked with rum! I took one sip and tipped the whole thing all over the table, lucky my friend got out in time!! The guys cleaned it up quick sticks and bought me another, thank goodness it was not as strong as the first, I am such a lightweight drinker lately. Oh, and the fish tacos were just incredible with a bit of spice on the fish and the slaw was so fresh atop fresh corn tortillas – divine!

After lunch, we headed up the hill to Coit tower and travelled up many stairs to the top checking out the many vistas as we went along. The view of the bay was stunning. We walked right to the top of the hill and then we went back down feeling a bit of vertigo on the way.

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There is the Bay Bridge that connects the city to Oakland and here are the stairs, which proved to be a great workout – thank goodness I was not too wasted!

After our stair adventure, we wandered down the Embarcadero for a little while checking out the scene, the weather was absolutely perfect!

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This incredible art piece of a polar bear was in San Francisco after being built at Burning Man. It was installed as part of the climate summit held in the city over the week – this is such a statement to global warming – a thin polar bear suffering at the loss of its Arctic habitat.

Oh and here’s a little immigration story… my son was asking about why my family immigrated to Australia for a school project.

My mum and her family moved over in 1962 and travelled to Melbourne by ship called the Oriana and it took about 2 weeks to get to Station Pier in Port Melbourne. They moved to the coldest place in Victoria – Newborough where my nan moved from her teaching job to work as a librarian. It was funny that they moved there from tropical Sri Lanka. The reason they left Sri Lanka was that there was a coup d’etat in Columbo and there was no scope and no future for their family there. They left with their suitcases, a few furniture pieces to white Australia. The only reason they were accepted into Australia was that their credentials were important – meaning they had to prove they were of European background. As it turns out my Nan side was Dutch and my Pops side was French. The white Australia policy ended in 1973, such a fascinating racist past in what is now multicultural Australia.

My mum and dad met at a cricket match in Melbourne and they married in 1965 when they went up to Queensland for a holiday that was where they wanted to be with the tropical weather.

My dads family moved over in 1949 and lived and went to school in St Kilda as his Dad has retired from the railway so they migrated to Australia. They too had to write out their genealogy to prove they had a European background and my dad’s side is German. His family moved to the country when he grew up when he met my mum when she was 21. Dads family also migrated for a better life in Australia and he travelled on the ship Orontes, this is history we need to retain for our future. Thanks, Mum and Dad and Cheryl for sharing this story with me over the weekend!

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The ship my Dads family travelled on from Sri Lanka

 

Good citizens

I was jamming it last week with writing my 2nd essay for Indigenous Education and Perspectives with this essay focussing onThe Stolen Generations and bringing light to its relevance in education. I researched The Stolen Generations and its relationship to the Sorry speech by Kevin Rudd the PM in 2008, what a speech that was and so long overdue! It was an intense essay looking at racism and discrimination and I had a so much to draw upon with the connection to the Dumpo era here in the U S of A.

So with all that writing, I needed to focus and needed to eat well and drink matcha tea and made this delicious coconut milk matcha tea in the Vitamix after leaving it on for a while – beautiful, frothy and warm! And with my lack of time dinner has been super easy with taco Tuesday and tonight’s cool soba noodle salad topped with a fresh bantam egg.

Over the weekend we went to Open House for Missys week-long science camp coming up soon and we checked out the nature lab to touch this Trans-Pecos Rat Snake – it was so friendly. As as the kids have toyed with the idea of owning a reptile I found this info sign to share with them, it will remain here on the blog for reference if they have serious thoughts of snake keeping in the future. It is quite an expensive outlay and lucky for them there is an aquarium near our place in Melbourne and they can go an visit the reptiles there or maybe volunteer to give food to the snakes.

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I found this in a binder from my daughter’s 1st-grade class – if only this was the mantra of all humans! This is why I love being with kids they know where it is at and how to behave.

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As I have been cleaning out so much stuff and getting rid of boxes of everything from fabric to books to clothes and kids stuff, I found this lovely little scrapbook that Ash made when he was in Kindergarten – it is super cute. Our friends are in the pics but I have blurred their faces as they may not want to appear here 😀 respect! The kids are so cute and so young and he has captured some good times from the redwoods to the snow even with our green car!

 

What am I going to miss?

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These kiddos really enjoy our friendship with our friends who are have been our family over here. We have known each other since Ashwin was a baby and the kids met at a local music class – so we have known each other for over 11 years, which is most of the time we have been here. Coming here and not knowing anyone, it was so good to find my peeps, friends who understand you with so many things in common.

We have been having fun times together even when our friends moved to the East Bay, so every month or so we meet at Half Moon Bay and today we hung out at the beach and enjoyed Japanese for lunch. I will miss our good times together catching up and I felt so sad when I shared the news of us leaving today with our friends. Over the years we have had some epic camp trips together, all over California with so many excellent memories.

Our chickens are so sweet and we are going to have to give these ladies up for adoption at the 4H ranch come January. They just make me so happy with their little personalities. Hopefully, we can get some of our own when our house is done in Melbourne.

It really is a bittersweet decision to go back home and there are some friends that I will really miss so I will have the hope that our friends can come and visit us down under. We have met some beautiful people here and the feeling of this part of our life coming to an end is upsetting but it is opening up the next chapter of our lives back home in Australia. We have been very lucky to live here and create so many beautiful memories with some very special peeps! x

Oh and I feel this is what we should all watch, this Prince Ea is amazing – it really makes you think about all you are.

Am I ready to repatriate?

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Many people ask me why am I leaving? The answer is simple really I want to be back home near my family. Initially, my move was instigated by the November election a couple of years ago saying I gotta get the heck outta dodge ASAP. Now as I am coming down to the reality that it is really happening and it is quite a nerve-wracking experience. Even though I am going home, things still will be the same but I will be starting all over again in our community. I have been living here in California – yep just here in Mountain View for the last 12 years and somehow you get caught in a rhythm of life especially when you have children. The biggest sadness I will feel is leaving our amazing school community, they have been the reason I have wanted to stay here so long. I realigned our plans so long ago when I realised what an incredible foundation it is for our children. What came about being a part of a parent participation community and being involved in our children’s education was that I wanted to be a part of this incredible experience, being with children and teaching them.

Through serendipitous events, I enrolled to do my degree in Education and the experience so far has been eye-opening and with each unit I do I appreciate all the hard work a teacher does in the classroom. To be the teacher is an experience I truly enjoy and I am so happy to work with children with their boundless energy and creativity. The funny thing is that when I am teaching the kids art they are so engaged in the experience and so happy to begin their projects – this is what I love about teaching! The sheer joy kids get from creating and making. I see this in the classroom where my daughter goes to school, the community I have volunteered in for 9 years – something so close to my heart that it has made me become someone who shares their love of making and creating with the world to teach. The knowledge I gain from my classwork and the research I am doing in regards to 21st-century learning and teaching in the classroom is something the kids deserve more than anything. Kids do not need to be in a structured industrial age model of learning anymore, they need to be allowed to experiment, be creative, use their minds to critically think and most of all collaborate. Going back to the Australian education system is where my children will receive this and that is another good reason to go home. Project Based Learning is for everyone and if resources and funding allow yes it should be a huge part of the learning experience for kids. This way they will grow up to be an active member of society and have the ability to think on their feet no matter what is thrown at them. That is what I love about teaching sharing the joy of learning so kids can also be active in their learning and create lifelong memories.

Anyway, I have been writing two essays this week – one on 21st-century learning and teaching and the other on The Stolen Generation, White Australia’s atrocities to the traditional owners of Australia. Nothing much has been happening and I think I will just have to update my blog with musings on what is going on with the move, because I am constantly thinking I need to do something every day to make this move happen! Next step getting some plane tickets – now that will make it real!!

Some good food and back to Skool

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The last week of the school was pretty low key and I managed to clean out some frozen vegetable scraps to make a delicious stock for a ramen. This was inspired by a vegan ramen recipe, though I have added egg for protein.

And it finally came to the class posting at our school! Over the summer builders were frantically working away to make the deadline for our new school campus. Over the years our school has been in portable classrooms but with the popularity of our school and funds put aside for the project, our million dollar district has built a new school building – in our schools 22nd year of operation. We enjoyed a dedication by the Superintendent of the school before taking a wander around the campus to visit the teeny tiny playground where the kids really wanted to play on the digger 😀

Over the weekend we enjoyed some kitten sitting with RJ! Our next door neighbours friends kitten. She was only 10 weeks old and very independent. I have to say kittens are the best – she was the biggest distraction away from my studies. We all had such a special time with her!

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The kids went back to school and the day finally happened after 11 weeks of holidays – yep nearly 3 months off school!! Crazy town after we came back from Australia as we had another 3 weeks to entertain ourselves. So with my study schedule, it was a bit difficult so by the end the kids were saying they were bored but boy did they get a lot of screen time on their latest obsession Roblox.

Whatever, it is back to school and I am so happy to get my time to myself again!! Now I am writing another essay on Education in the 21st century which I am really enjoying. What really helps having experienced Progressive Education at our school for the last 8 years. It is so inspiring that I get to write about PBL – Project Based Learning. This makes me so happy to get back into the Australian Education system. Oh, I just discovered that you now have to pass a test that looks at your personal attributes to become an educator, very interesting and so very important!

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For our first day back at school, it was a minimum day – whoo hoo! Yep after 11 weeks of holidaze, we went back for half a day, ridiculous – tell me why? So that free time allowed me 1 hour of reading for Uni. So for the rest of the day, we cleaned out a chicken coop and later when we came home I was cleaning out stuff to give away into the garage.

In the evening I made a Rainbow Kale Salad, here’s the recipe…

1 bunch of dino kale (massaged with olive oil and lemon and left for a couple of hours under a tea towel to marinate)
3 x grated carrots
1 x small zucchini
2 x grated raw beets
cherry tomatoes
mint leaves
hemp seeds
avocado

  1. Grab a big bowl and leave the kale to marinate.
  2. Grate all your veggies in a food processor, cut tomatoes and break off mint leaves and add to the bowl.
  3. Cover with hemp seeds.
  4. Slice up your avocado on top.
  5. Fill a smaller bowl with this salad, top with roasted potatoes and Beyond Meat Sausages and vegan mayo – delish!

 

 

Sunny days and study days

It was back to routine and hanging with the ladies at the farm – this is Ruby and Luna.

Tuesday was an exciting night for my son as he went to his first concert at Shoreline Amphitheatre, just in our backyard – 10 minutes away. We went out as a family to see the Pixies, it was so fun! Ash and I found it a bit loud so we left early and Daddy was left to rock on to Weezer with his friend.

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Kushi and I spent a lot of time together last week where I went to his house (our neighbour) and gave him food and pats while I did my studies. Friday night Missy came with me and we all hung out with Kush and watched Grand Designs Australia together.

The weekend my schedule is rocking with a yoga class with Mark, riding my bike to the studio and back is a great warm up. The weather is perfect bike weather! Sunday I did a long bike ride and saw some egrets doing their Sunday morning training, along with a lone pelican.

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My son drew this cool picture on the whiteboard after his big night out with his friends for a sleepover on Saturday night. I do not know what it is, but I like it!