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!

Minimalist living

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OK, nothing much happened last week as I was writing an essay and drinking lots of tea to complete it. The essay was about Indigenous Australians and their contributions to society which was fascinating as I focussed on Stephen Page the Artistic Director of Bangarra Dance Theatre. While I was writing Bangarra had just premiered their new show which a friend of mine got to see in Canberra and she loved it! I miss those days of watching the arts freely and seeing Bangarra and spending time with arts at the theatre. Which leads me to some very exciting news!

We are leaving the USA in January 2019! We discussed the move with our family in Australia, between each other and decided it is time for the kids and myself to go back. The idea being the kids can start the Australian school year in our local school where our house is. And my hubby will live in two countries by travelling every 3 months. So there is a lot to do and organise in between studies. I understand my daughter will not graduate from our beloved elementary school which is sad but there are sacrifices we need to make to actually reach our goal of being back in Melbourne.

I was looking at the trip very reflectively when we were back in Australia and I just have to follow my heart. I felt when I was back home it was so grounding to be with family and friends who are like family and it made me feel so happy. Coming back to California was hard this time as I know this has been home for 12 years but it is time to go back to our roots and have the children experience life from a different perspective. The Bay Area is a place that will always hold terrific memories for me but now the time has come to say farewell.

Next job is to clean out the garage and get rid of stuff and then its back in the house to move along stuff that is ready to go as it is time to live a minimalist lifestyle. To be honest our house in Melbourne will not be housing the huge amount of stuff we have here, simply because we will not have a garage. Step 1 – Love it and let it go, time to go minimalist.

See you in 2019 Australia!

Our last week in Queensland was fun filled with a highlight of our trip a 5-hour whale watch adventure with my Dad and the kids out to the ocean right next to Moreton Island. It was such a beautiful day with the sun shining and the temperature was around 23 degrees – just perfect! I made a video using my new Nikon camera as I couldn’t capture the whale action as it was too slow and I am still a newbie with the settings. The video worked a treat as the lens can zoom in and out effortlessly.

The whale watch high-speed luxury catamaran was a dream on the water and the added bonus is getting a lovely lunch of salad and fresh prawns with fruit for dessert. We paid for coffee at $5 and water for $4 but I had a stash of snacks for the kids which was a good idea as they were hungry within seconds when they got on the boat. The views were just stunning and to see Moreton Island again in all its sandy glory bought back so many memories of camping over there and the big one spending Schoolies over there with my year 12 schoolmates.

I was on a mission to photograph the flying foxes for a friend of mine here in the States, she absolutely loves them on her Instagram feed and shows me the most beautiful pics of the little rescue foxes. This camp of foxes is found at the Redcliffe Botanic Gardens right across the road from my school friends house. I was in awe of how many there were and how active they are during the day – apparently, the males are super frisky all the time and harassing the females when they are trying to rest! I was pretty excited to get some cute pics too of these little fellas who are a keystone protected species in Australia as they are pollinators of the native flora.

Plus the lunar eclipse was happening the morning we were leaving so we did not get up to see it, my camera caught some close-ups of the moon before the cloud came in. The backyard had the grevilleas in bloom and the honeyeaters and lorikeets visited every day. Each week we kept our Taco Tuesday tradition going until we left the country Saturday morning.

And my friend M came to visit, we spent a lot of time together in our 20s and had a blast at all the clubs dancing away. Now we just catch up and drink fancy lattes. I enjoyed a matcha latte and M enjoyed the beet latte. The lunch I had at Soul Harvest Wholefoods was divine with 3 salads and a vegan pumpkin coconut pattie with a mango chutney – such a wholesome feast for lunch.

Soon came time for our last walk along the beach, we cherished our time together taking in the sights and feeling the fresh air and watching the water gently roll onto the sand. I did not realise how lucky I was to grow up with such a beautiful environment close by.

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Then as we flew off on a 27-degree day it was time to go back on the 13-hour journey back to San Francisco. We nearly missed the plane due to logistics with the Sydney airport bus transfer and then security finding some water in my daughter’s backpack so I had to stand there and drink it. Mind you by now I was busting to go to the toilet! Anyway, we finally got through the drama and made it to the flight QF73 and there we were on the plane about to have lunch. The time passed quickly as I caught up on my readings for University and watched a couple of films and my husband’s recommendation Search Party which was fine to pass the time. Secretly I was wanting to miss the plane and stay in Australia, I was not ready to come back to California. Now I am back it is OK as I have a lot of studies to catch up on to keep me busy and out of pining for Melbourne and to be back with my family. Until we move back – know that we love you and miss you. The countdown begins with around 10 months to go!!

Family frolics

Back with my family in Redcliffe on Sunday as we took the train from the Sunshine Coast to the new train station at Kippa-Ring, it was very exciting and so picturesque with the pineapple fields and sugar cane. Very different from the slow Caltrain back in the valley. I have been eating a lot of fish and chips and my good food diet has gone out the window but hey I only visit here once a year and this food is so good!! The walk to the beach from the Air Bnb is only 15 minutes through the back streets leading to a beautiful boardwalk along the entire beachfront.

What I enjoy is visiting with my family when I am here – here is my aunty outside her place with us and the kids with their great aunt. Every time I go to my aunty’s place I check out her collection of retro housewares and she is happy to give them away, this time the glitter seahorse caught my eye!

The kids have been wanting to go for a swim at the lagoon by the beach so why not on a beautiful Queensland sunny winters day we took them out and enjoyed more chips and a delicious fava bean burger from the Suttons Beach Pavillion.  The playground was a lot of fun with a giant pink cage and the gran and grandad enjoyed spending time outdoors with the kids where they could see them in their element.

The weekend was a lot of fun starting with a big night Friday of big Australian wines, a Shiraz or two and a delicious dinner at home with the kids. Saturday we met some friends at a local handmade market and came back for a cuppa and biscuits at our Air BnB. The market was super cool with some wonderful local designers that I loved especially a woodworker who made these stools that fold and can sit together they were so functional and beautiful in design. I am on the lookout for furniture for our house in Melbourne but I will not know what we need until we build, my hubby and I are starting a Pinterest board of ideas for when the time comes. Oh and the added bonus of this market was the food trucks and they were both vegan, so I had a vegan sausage roll which was delicious – oh the food memories I am making on this trip. My sister’s man made a beautiful farewell lunch of potato rosti with poached egg and smoked salmon, sour cream and dill that I truly enjoyed! Until next time my friends.

And to wrap up our weekend we celebrated Christmas in July with the family which was so much fun and of course, I did not eat the roast but scored the grilled barramundi, chips and salad – oh those chips again! At least I know when I go back to California I will not be eating them as I do not like fries. I drank a couple of glasses of NZ Sauvignon Blanc and felt very happy but it was a sad afternoon as I said farewell to my sister, nephew and her cat Millie, until we meet again we love you all!

 

Travels up North

Continuing our adventures in Melbourne for the rest of the week I caught up with my friends for playdates with the kids and of course. In St Kilda we had lunch at Dr Jekyll – my friend and I had the perfectly poached eggs with sumac and other delicacies. The kids scoffed down a lamb sausage roll. I caught up with other friends for fish and chips on Sunday and a dinner at their place on Thursday evening.

We enjoyed a TacoTuesday celebration with our good friends after a lovely chilly winter stroll to the beach to view the amazing sunset. Our dinner was enhanced with the New Zealand speciality pavlova with lemon curd and blueberries.

Later in the week, we met another friend for lunch at Supernormal – an upscale Asian restaurant in Flinders Lane. The boys enjoyed ramen and I enjoyed a super tasty lobster roll and raw kingfish and citrus sashimi and I drank the Fake Bews which was almond, pineapple and bitters which was very refreshing, I actually do miss having bitters as a drink option so I grab the opportunity when I am back home in Oz.

Oh and here is the Totoro crochet I made for my nephew! This guy took longer than I planned and was made in Adelaide, Melbourne and completed in Brisbane!! I do love the way it turned out in the end as I was a bit concerned as I ran out of grey yarn so he has black gloves on plus the grey tones change with the tail and the ears as the acrylic I was using throughout only made it to the bottom of his body.

The trip to the sunshine coast to meet the many animals Millie, the dogs Sailor and Leo and the koala. The kids had a blast together playing hide and seek in my sister’s house.

Our beach time at the Sunshine Coast is super special as the day we planned to go to Noosa – which I do not recommend even though it is so beautiful, it is packed with people and parking is hard to find. After the plan, I read that you can park at Sunrise beach and then walk to Noosa through the National Park and catch the bus back, such a cool idea for a day trip. The kids love the water so they were in for a swim, it was too cold for me!! I love the many vistas of just being at the beach and it makes me so happy to be there.

After the rain the day was spectacular and we went for lunch at the Chenrezig Institute in Eudlo, which is the hinterland up in the mountainous region of the Sunshine Coast. The energy there was just mellow after wrangling the children the time we had up there was chilled out and the lunch of a vegan shepherds pie, steamed seasonal vegetables and salad was so warming. Their temple for meditation space would have been perfect if the kids would have joined in though it looked like there was a workshop happening for the day. I would happily go back again and volunteer in the future.

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My sister and I have had such a special time together and it was wonderful to be hanging out at her pad in Buderim with a super cold pool which would be amazing in the summertime. I know the time we spend together I have to cherish but as I will be coming home next year, I can make it up over the winter to escape the Melbourne chill and enjoy the time together with my nephew.

Thursday was a big day out to Maleny Botanic Gardens and Bird World – these pictures captured the fun we had with our aviary tour and the parrots hanging out with us. The gardens were fun to wander around and provided many picture opportunities of the three cousins! The views of the Glasshouse mountains from the gardens was just the best. Oh, the female red-tail black cockatoo was a highlight for me and she just enjoyed her perch way up high observing everyone!

In the evening we went to Mooloolaba to Elixiba a plant-based restaurant and dining experience for a friends birthday. I was so excited to see a sparkler on her raw cheesecake with berries that we all tried. I had this cool colour changing cocktail called the using house-made chameleon lemonade. The food was fresh and tasty and the coco-mari a rif on calimari using coconut shreds was so moreish.

Our last day up the coast was to visit the farmers market and to enjoy a potato rosti I had only heard about and was hanging out to try. This was the spanner crab omelette with the crab caught off Fraser Island served with Asian herbs and chilli, absolutely divine and disappeared in seconds! And then it was time to say goodbye to Aunty where we took the train back to our place in Redcliffe to be with my family and enjoy some chilled out time at an Air Bnb with a highlight of Christmas in July coming up on Sunday.

 

 

 

 

Surprise food encounters

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We did a side trip to Adelaide and the pics were on my phone and I downloaded all the action today, now I can document the eating adventure we had with our family. We hit the airport nice and early for our flight to Adelaide from Melbourne and it was cancelled so we had a nice long 4-hour wait at the airport, it sucks when we could have been sleeping or watching Teen Titans at our other Air Bnb.

Anyway after exhausting all the fun stuff at Tullamarine airport including a Metalicus 90% off sale – a sad sale as they will no longer exist! I also found Pressed Juices who had the most delicious selection of juice plus many vegan and vegetarian options so I was happy. We were flying Jetstar only to change to a Qantas flight so we scored some extra food on the plane which was great. In Adelaide, we stayed at an old fire station which could sleep 8 people but it worked out as we were close to our relatives. There are my new favourite boots by the “fire hose place”. We enjoyed meeting our relatives at a cafe by the beach but it was ice cold to be anywhere on the beach so we stayed inside and enjoyed a macchiato and hot chocolate.

Oh and the cold does make me super hungry so I found this wonderful vegetarian option of beet hummus with halloumi and rocket topped with balsamic, yummo at the Grange Jetty Cafe.

We only had a couple of fun days with Grandma Jane and Grandpa Lloyd and Callie so we enjoyed as many eating opportunities as we could by visiting Sarah’s Sisters, a sustainable cafe way before its time with many vegetarian options on the menu and wine in a sunlit space by the nursery with an alpaca and chickens. I was hanging out for a salad due to the amount of junk food I have been eating whilst travelling. Missy is wearing the beginnings of a Totoro amigurumi I made for my nephew.

On our final day in Adelaide, we went out to Marion to check out the gallery and enjoy some more food with a latte and cappuccino with some yummy food before we hit the airport again. Australians really know how to make a good coffee!

Oh and our day out to the Botanical Gardens and Sugar Republic where our lunch was captured at a 24 hour ramen place called Shujinko where I enjoyed a cold ramen on a cold Melbourne day. The rest of the family had the ramen and really enjoyed it, though they always compare it to Sha La La in Mountian View where they have been spoilt. I wanted to document the many food dates we had in Adelaide and Melbourne that I had not covered as yet, ta da done!!

 

From Melbourne to the Sunshine Coast

At the end of the week, we moved into the second leg of our Australia trip 2018! After a week of enjoying the chilly winter weather in Melbourne and catching up with friends, it was time to go our separate ways. We said our farewells as a family at Tullamarine airport my hubby flew back to the Bay and I headed up to Brisbane to spend a week with my sister and nephew at the Sunshine Coast.

For one of our first outings at the coast, the children enjoyed Wildlife HQ interacting with Australian native animals, they especially loved the free range kangas, emus and wallabies. My new point and shoot came in handy and I managed to get some beautiful pics and I found this super cool pic of a mama and baby koala – sweet!

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Wildlife HQ was the perfect size to take little kids with each area marked out neatly to allow an easy trek through the animals. The South-American area was super cool with the tamarin monkeys going nutzo in their enclosures – these cotton top tamarins were chilling in the afternoon sun.

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Like a bunch of old gentlemen, these emperor tamarins were sitting in their enclosure chatting away.

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There were two friendly mini horses and we all loved this guys hairdo!

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The rooster was hilarious with his constant crowing all day and indeed he was certainly a very handsome guy!

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Other friends we were allowed to pet were the Wallabies and pademelons, super soft and cute.

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Ash really enjoyed patting the emus, I had no idea how huge they were and at least these guys were very friendly.

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At Wildlife HQ there are animal encounters and for the kids, we decided to do a group koala pic as our sitter just loved koalas. Missy was the holder of the koala and she said it was the weight of a baby.

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Ash’s fave animal the meerkat in action.

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An animal I had never seen before from South East Asia reminded me of a cat lazing out there in the sunshine.

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Koalas were definitely our highlight even though they only stay awake 2 hours of the day and the rest of the time they are sleeping after they enjoy their feast of eucalyptus leaves.

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On entry you have the option to feed the animals and buy a bag of feed for around $1, the animals know and they know the sound of the bag and will happily come to you for a small fest of hay.

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For our first day in Queensland, we enjoyed a beautiful sunny day with the kids at the ocean and where the kids loved wave jumping between the flags.

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We travelled to Chambers island for lunch and enjoyed low tide on the Maroochydore river, catching a glimpse of some wildlife – the amazing pelican.

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We were sad to say our farewell to Melbourne on Saturday after all the fun we had with friends and food. This beauty was the on the ceiling of our Air BnB.

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Our wanderings around Albert Park in the chilly weather I took my camera out to capture the wildlife around the place and found this rainbow lorikeet with its buddy in a tree hole nest.

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I love the magpies but I think it was a bit of a close call to be near them as they can attack if they are nesting, whew lucky for me check out that pointy beak!

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These lovelies are corellas and were digging about in the grass looking for their lunch.

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I always love to find the Moreton Bay fig trees as they are perfect photography specimens and the best trees to climb.

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On our walk we spied a flock of cockatoos and ended up finding them enjoying a feast by the golf course – this was shot across the road from where these birds were feasting.

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The wind was relentless the day we went for a walk around the lake the swan was battling the waves.

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The kids were all rugged up and thank goodness for my pussy hat to save the day.

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On taco Tuesday my friends came over so we went for a walk down to the beach and stayed until sunset and it was brilliant. Melbourne beaches in winter are stunning and completely empty except for the dog walkers.

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The girls enjoyed their time in the cold making a sandcastle on the deserted beach. All in all our time in Melbourne was so much fun and we now have a projected timeline for our house plan with the next stage of advertising to the neighbours and then the design finishes of the interiors and then to tender out to a builder! Proposed start of the project will be February 2019 with an estimated 8-month build. So I am feeling good and will be getting ready to leave to the USA mid-year 2019 and I am so happy to be getting out of there. Being home in Australia I am so grounded really feel it is time to come back home!

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Sweet as, alright!

 

Chilling out with the family in Melbourne over the winter we wanted to enjoy the sunshine when we had the opportunity so we headed on over to a fave place I used to frequent often years ago the Royal Botanical Gardens AKA The Tan.

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The kids were complaining about all the walking we were doing so we checked out Fern Gully, once a home to the flying foxes (they have been relocated to another park outside of the city) and the Guilfoyle’s volcano, which my daughter thought was a real volcano but she was a bit annoyed to find a volcano-shaped pool. I loved the design especially the water saving plants surrounding the pool. My son enjoyed touching the sharp cactus in his Pikachu hat.

While we were at the gardens we saw a cockatoo flying around – who knows what they are doing in the city these days? The botanical garden is a picturesque place to wander around and practice taking pics with my new camera.

After the gardens, we enjoyed ramen in the city and enjoyed our anniversary gift of a trip to Sugar Republic in Fitzroy. It was the Aussie version of the Museum of Ice Cream in SF, which I have never been to it is hard to get tickets – many of my friends have been and their pics are super cool.

This was so fun with spinning the wheel of treats to score some goodies, then we wandered into sugar heaven with a bag of wizz fizz – whew way too much sugar for me. After that hit, we enjoyed a charcoal cone of soft serve ice cream with sprinkles, mmmm! I have recently quit sugar so I was a bit high after all this and then I scored an iced vovo, yummo I have not had one in ages! The massive ice cream sculptures have one of my fave ice blocks a Golden Gaytime.

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We jumped out of a giant birthday cake in a room of confetti and each room was created by a different artist which made the flow of the space really fun.

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We really enjoyed the lolly shop with all the lollies that we used to score for $1 at the milk bar. The wall of neon was super cool with many treats including fairy bread, I must say this was the prettiest neon I have ever seen and I live in the land of neon in the US of A.

 

On our exit, we enjoyed some time in the ball pit of bubblegum bubbles, where it was important to take off all your accessories otherwise they would disappear to the bottom of the pool! The kids were very excited and really enjoyed the ball pit where they told us to swim under the balls, scary stuff!!

It will be our 12th anniversary on July 23rd and we will be on either side of the world so our celebration was to enjoy our time together with the family at Sugar Republic.

The kids were swinging in the fairy floss room, it would have been so good to get some fairy floss too as part of the sugar high.

 

We had such a fun time eating sugar and getting the sugar high with the sweet of the day musk sticks! The cool thing about Sugar Republic was that it was at a warehouse where the Macrobertson factory once stood back in the day and there was a wonderful story about “white city” that once stood in the streets of Melbourne – the home of Freddo Frog and Cherry Ripe. In the story, I liked how the owner of the factory wore a white suit and hat and rode around in a carriage pulled by two white ponies.

 

Summer to winter in one day

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The summer annual sandpit fun was happening at the park on a very hot 32-degree day for the summer holidays. We have finally arrived in Melbourne after a very long flight across the ocean to winter in Australia.

We landed in Sydney nice and early and transferred to a flight to Melbourne early morning. We arrived in Melbourne and kept awake for the day by going for a 30-minute walk to the shops to get our food for dinner and on the way, the kids found this Moreton Bay Fig and it even had a ladder.

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Today we wandered around our new neighbourhood for the next couple of weeks and went to Albert Park lake to check out the views of the city, and it did not disappoint. The birds were in action on the lake, and the kids loved the black swans. My fave the Magpies were in action as well as the rainbow lorikeets. This green guy way up in the tree is a Musk Lorikeet, still loud as ever enjoying a breakfast feast. The kids always enjoy Melbourne with parks to wander through and always an interesting playground to play in. This is the beginning of a very relaxing and fun break.