Chicks rule


In a random event of conversation began our foray into the land of 4H.  The 4H pledge goes “I pledge my head to clearer thinking, my heart to greater loyalty, my hands to larger service, and my health to better living, for my club, my community, my country, and my world,” indeed a pledge I could believe in.  The Rolling Hills 4H Club introduced us to the wonderful world of farm animals.

The chicken AKA, the gateway animal to urban farming according to Novella Carpenter, introduced us to caring for an animal that provides us with delicious eggs. Little did we know when we signed up for the Chicken Project that we would learn to love these girls! Going to a chicken show in Modesto we saw the many breeds that we are now raising in little brooding boxes.


This Serama chick may be a rooster!
The Polish chick is wondering what is going on with the Silkie chick doing yoga


We have been having a great time in the house having the chicks in the lounge room listening to their little peeps whenever they are awake.

We took them outside for some sunshine the other day and saw a cute hummingbird in the tree with red leaves flying overhead. The next moment we saw a hawk swooping overhead and we were so lucky as we quickly ran inside with all the chicks to save them from a near death experience! The little pullets (a chick under a year old) were hiding out underneath an overgrown Italian parsley bush for safety – they knew how to do it but we had them out in broad daylight on open grass, we all learned a valuable lesson about keeping the chicks safe!

When you look after chicks in brooding boxes you conduct your own research on whether there are roosters in the gang. So Missy discovered while she was Google searching that the chicks with the crests already are most likely roosters. Time will tell, and the roosters will not be staying at the farm with the girls, eventually, they will be rehoused – someone did mention Hidden Villa in Los Altos?!

Outstretched Silkie getting some rays
A very inquisitive Serama chick

These chicks have been an excellent distraction from my last two assessments, and I love watching them. These two above have very interesting personalities with the fluffy Cochin chick spreading her little body out flat on the grass in the sunshine, and the little black Serama (a breed from Malaysia, the world’s smallest chicken) is quite the people’s chick and loves any interaction with humans.

Only 1 week to go and my 2nd teaching period is done, a combination of Science and Maths has been excellent, and I now have a newfound appreciation for both of these subjects and how to teach them to get the kids excited!


Sunshine and springtime chicks


Finally, the weather has been consistent for the last few days and the weekend was just amazing! These roses are in a garden in the Los Altos Hills where the kids go swimming – the colours are breathtaking.

It is the best time of year to go bike riding as the wildlife and the flowers after the rain are super and there is also a super bloom that you can see from space. Now that the flowers are settled so is my allergies, so it was the perfect day to go riding on Sunday on the path where there were hardly any people and enjoy the peace of the bay. Check out that trail – there is no one there! This is off the main trail heading out to the Bay, but I allowed myself a short ride so I could get back home to clean out the garden and do some sewing and study.

Missy’s Bantam Silkie chick – fingers crossed it is a girl



A Bantam Polish chick
My fave cute Bantam chick
Another cute chick
Cleaning chick feet
The world’s smallest chicken – a Serama


Friday we picked up some Bantam chicks that have just hatched from an egg project from a homeschool family. The eggs were from a very special place in Sonoma where rare breeds of chickens are raised in an organic environment – they are closed to the public due to their breeding programs and having to keep the farm safe from any biohazards. Their collection of chicks and images on their site is so inspiring and make me want to move to the country to a yurt and raise chickens – it is always nice to dream! Still, we are fostering these chicks for the 4H poultry project where the kids will take care of them at home until they are ready to go into the coop with the other 2 bantam chicks. This time we are raising quite a few bantams, and it will be so exciting to watch them grow, they are quite small chickens but oh so cute! I love how the kids are so mesmerised by the chicks and how gentle they are taking care of them every day, 4H really is an incredible program for kids. The chicks sleep a lot of the time flat out on their bellies with their heads in front of them – I had no idea how chicks slept, and they are just gorgeous to watch and such a distraction.


Miss Bella


Bella has been sad for the last month or so and has been hanging out with us more as she is really missing her brother Mack – they were the best of friends. She is such a loving cat when she wants to be and is sleeping on our bed a lot at night which we love! I am still missing my best cat friend though as each day passes, I think of all the good times we had together.

A piece a Week – Time out to the De Young

What a special time to go and visit the DeYoung with my friend from Oakland last week. It was my second last week to enjoy time before the chaos of summer kicks in and I have the kids for over 2 months. Time out to enjoy art is truly something that I cherish and the fact that clothes are involved it was even better! I really enjoyed the Oscar De La Renta show with all the color he used in his clothes and the fabrics – I just wanted to touch the fabrics they were exquisite. Working with textiles is like that – you just want to feel everything.

After checking out the show my friend and I had a quick wander around the De Young and found an inspiring textiles exhibition by Kay Sekimachi – student, teacher, artist with lots of woven textiles in various hues. Before we left the De Young in San Francisco we enjoyed Ruth Asawa in the downstairs foyer of the observation deck.

Silkworm cocoons and moth

On the subject of fabrics we were visiting the farm at McClellan Ranch on Friday to get some chicken coop training. While we were waiting we visited the Nature center where there was a silkworm moth hatched from its cocoon. It was fascinating to learn about the life of this silk moth – it has 24 hours to find a mate and then it will die. I found this post about the lifecycle of a silkworm and I did not know there was such a thing as Peace Silk where the moths are allowed to emerge from their cocoons and live their life cycle.

And thanks to the lemonade project my daughter was doing at class I scored more lemons so I have decided to make a lemon shrub for cocktails this summer! When life gives you lemons (especially Meyer lemons!) then make a Lemon Shrub. Friday I went out with the ladies and had a watermelon shrub so what better way to understand what I was drinking – so I make my own.



A piece a Week – A Kombucha Party

For our school silent auction I hosted a ‘How to make Kombucha party’. As I am a definite convert to kombucha since finding a favorite brand brewed closeby in Sonoma (my new favorite foodie place) – Revive, at Whole Foods. Since drinking the jugs of Kombucha and wanting to find out how to make it my friend in Seattle gave me a gift of a SCOBY from a friend. From that one SCOBY having many babies I have been experimenting with different teas and flavours. So for the party I did a lot of research with books on Kombucha from the local library. A favorite being this one by the crew at Kombucha Kamp. 
The plan of the party was to show my guests how to make Kombucha and introduce them to what a SCOBY looks like. As we were waiting for water to boil and tea to brew, I had some snacks and drinks during the Q&A. The drinks I mixed included different flavours of Kombucha tea and alcohol and some Mocktails for those who don’t like alcohol, still throw a couple of shots in there and you are golden! The cocktails went down very well – I made a Limoncello from Everclear a while back and we had that with a Lavender Green Tea Kombucha, amazing! Here are some recipes if you want to make your own over the summer – it makes a very refreshing beverage!

Healthy Mule
(inspired by the book Kombucha Revolution)
cucumber, Lemon & basil (Serves 4)

8 oz Yerba Mate Kombucha
5 oz Vodka
4 oz Grapefruit or Lemon juice
2” of cucumber chopped
¾ cup water
Agave to taste

Place everything in a blender and blend to the prefered consistency. You will see lots of bubbles and foam on the top – that is OK as your ‘buch has bubbles!

Gin and Juice – of course you can always add more gin!

8 oz pomegranate
4 oz gin
4 oz green tea / lavender infused kombucha
Lime juice
Simple Syrup to taste

Place in the blender to mix thoroughly.
Limoncello and Lavender Cocktail

Make your limoncello from Everclear

Use Green Tea Kombucha 2 cups and mix in with an infusion of lavender by taking 1 cup of boiling water and infuse fresh lavender buds in a tea ball for 5 minutes

Blueberry Mojito Mocktail

1 cup blueberries
1 oz lemon juice (½ lemon)
¼ cup mint leaves
1 cup Water
2 ½ oz black tea kombucha
Maple Syrup to taste

Place all ingredients in the blender and mix.

Berry Basil Green Tea Mocktail

1 cup frozen mixed berries
Fresh Basil to taste
1 cup genmaicha kombucha
1 cup water and ice
Agave to taste

Put everything in the blender and till all the basil is distributed through then serve in a cocktail glass with a basil leaf.

Cheers to these healthy cocktails – as the Kombucha has some fizz it creates some nice bubbles in the blender

Whoa now this is a beautiful drink with cucumber and basil
The SCOBY ready to go home to their new homes

Sunday was our last pygmy goat meeting for the year at the farm. There are going to be little baby pygmy goats at the farm real soon so I cannot wait to see them! 
This little lady is due to have her 4 babies very soon!

Goat crafting and creating with model magic 
The goat drying in the pen

The goat in it’s environment by the lake

Little 1 week old Nigerian dwarf goat – born on Mothers day

Mama goat and her two babies – a boy and a girl

Brother goat

10 day old goat

Proud mama goat in the sunshine

A piece a Week – A Glasses Case and Chicks for a Week

Our bathroom was a place to foster three four week old chicks last week from the 4H Program at McClellan Ranch. They are the cutest little creatures to spend time with and the kids really enjoyed sitting in the bathtub talking to the chicks and waiting for them to nap in their laps. One of the chicks belongs to Missy and she is a Production Red chick who will be reddish brown when she grows up to be a hen. You can see her darker feathers appearing beneath her little yellow chick feathers. She was the cutest little ball of feathers when we bought her. I have a new found respect for these little producers and looking forward to when they lay their eggs at the farm. In return for cleaning out the coop the keepers of the chicks will get some eggs. 
Missy and her little chick Ruby fast asleep
Little Ruby perching on the edge of their enclosure

Goodnight Ruby

Even though Mr Ash is not in the Poultry project he still enjoyed the chick action in the bath. The other two chicks belong to other children in the project and they enjoyed his company too.

Looking for worms (threads) on the PJs
A friend of mine asked me to make her a Glasses case and she gave me the one she really loved so I could make one for her. I love these cases as I remember having them when I was a kid and enjoyed playing with the mechanism. They are super handy to have and I have been making many of them and trying out what fabrics work best. They are called a Squeeze Frame or Flex Frame and they are quite fun to put together once you work out how to make the casing I love the little pouch on Where the Orchids Grow blog using the Liberty fabric scraps. For these I have used FabMo interior design fabric and for the first one I made I used a linen and the Pink and Yellow Ikat design fabric is an outdoor fabric which was a bit tricker to work with sliding the clip through. Still I love how it sits in my bag and is easy access for my sunglasses with the beautiful spring California sun. 
The Squeeze Frame in action
Just pop those sunnies in there

An outdoor fabric using a cotton lining for ease of slipping in the frame

Saturday was a night at the movies with a friend to see Purple Rain – it was so good to see Prince in action and it was so funny to think I watched that film when I was a kid totally ignoring the R rating and enjoying it just for Princes performances on stage with the Revolution. So Sunday came and it was a beautiful warm day and perfect for a ride to the farmers market to collect flowers for the teachers for the Staff Appreciation Week at our school. We loved the look of the proteas and I bought some Billy Buttons which are native to Australia and New Zealand (who knew!) and some lilies. Of course we could not leave the market without some organic strawberries as they are coming into season! I love to ride along with flowers in my basket on a sunny day – no riding pics but here is the bouquet on the dining table looking very happy and very spring!

Spring flowers ready to bloom soon

Oh and as my camera was out and about on Sunday I found my Bella cat in her favorite spot on the fence under the redwood tree enjoying the afternoon breeze.

Hey Baby girl!

Guarding the fence from squirrels 

A piece a Week – Bias detailing on a Black Dress

This week was the final week of teaching the Arts Focus program at school and for the final class I thought I would wear a new dress. As one of my students likes to observe what I am wearing! She is one of my students who absolutely enjoys the class and everything sewing encompasses – so hopefully I will see her in 5th grade if she chooses sewing again as her final Arts Focus class 🙂

I did not have much time to make something from scratch as other projects and life generally take over my creative time. But I did have a chance to jazz up a dress with some bias fabric I made that I was using to add detail to cashmere cardigans I cut and bound in the center. The bias fabric idea is from a great book called The Party Dress book where you can see the use of bias fabric on the dress on the front cover. It is just beautifully applied in so many of the dresses in the book. My job was more experimental and to see if I enjoyed the process? I found it was like throwing on the wheel where I am working on the machine in a spiral pattern first attaching the bias binding and then continually going around and around in a spiral on the skirt. I love how my the symbiosis of my art projects sometimes blend together.

This dress I wore when I was a witch one Halloween and had not worn again since but as it has long sleeves and pockets it works as a great dress for teaching. I like to have pockets when I am teaching as I can have my phone for photos or even a pencil for drawing lines ready to go! So as I enjoyed the application and adding an interesting detail to the dress I think I will use this process in skirts for my upcoming collection in October for the Textile Art Boutique.

Detail of the bias on the dress
The dress hanging with pockets and all

It was a rainy weekend and we enjoyed our Saturday catching up on things and preparing to Spring forward for daylight saving!! Yes I lost an hour of sleep and it was quite annoying but still we managed to get up in time on Sunday to drive to Modesto – 1.5 hours away to check out a Poultry Show. Yes, why drive all that way to see Poultry LOL?? Well it was our family excursion for the day and my daughter has taken on the Poultry Project at our local 4H Club Rolling Hills. She is enjoying it so far and really wanting to get chickens for our small little garden! We will see as there is a bit of research first we have to do before setting up a coop in the back garden. 

We eventually managed to find the Agriculture Pavilion at the Modesto Junior College campus after many failed attempts at finding a decent map! I was already feeling very tired as I came home from hanging out with friends the night before starting off with a happy hour with friends from my dance class and afterwards a Downton Abbey finale party which finished at midnight – which is way past my bedtime!! Still stay positive I thought and see what you can learn from this experience! Most of the judging had happened by the time we arrived at lunch time but all the chickens were on display. I had never seen so many breeds and such beautiful birds too! So with that positive spin check out some of the fancy breeds we saw at the show…

Cool looking chicken – White Crested Black Polish Cockerel.
You really can tell the difference between the males and females in the bird world, this guy is very fancy!

A Seabright Chicken – I love the feather detail

Super cute chicken

An arty chicken butt

A Frizzle chicken – their feathers are everywhere and such a mess but they still look good!

Fancy chicken feathers

Ash and the New Jersey giant – the biggest chicken I have ever seen!!!
Yes it was bigger than his head – there is no distortion in this pic!

Now I know I am in the country with the trucks and the tractors

A chicken at the judging table doing the funky chicken

Another unusual breed – the naked neck chicken


Someone who should be doing the chicken project – who loves chickens more than his sister

This chicken had enough and was ready for bed!

So there you go a lesson in chicken breeds and how beautiful chickens are! My vegetarian diet appreciates these little guys and look in their eyes to see what a lovely companion animal they can be. The kids seem to enjoy them very much, so maybe we can build a coop later on in the summer as a project? Their favorite chicken is a bantam – not very fancy at all. They are a a nice size for handling and a Pullet is a hen less than a year old – so I am learning new things about chickens too!

One day the kids hope to get a couple of these chicks

A piece a Week :: Geometric Skirt

This week I found that I really need a ‘practical go with everything skirt’ in my closet and I found this great pattern for a geometric skirt. The great thing about this is it was from a 1970s vintage pattern and the pattern original is longer in design. I made this above the knee and is a fun skirt to wear and I choose a corduroy to keep in theme with the 1970s. It reminded me of something I might wear on the streets of Melbourne catching the tram. I love how it goes well with the Missoni vest I had to buy when Target bought them in the store years ago! This week I have made a fun animation with the pics from the photo shoot.

Hey I can see the tram – hey stop here! 
Here is some action!
And then it was the Valentines week – I went to yoga on Saturday morning and found this heart on the wall near Ava’s the grocery store downtown. So here are a few things that I am thankful for this weekend! 

Love is all around! 

Time for yoga at Yoga Belly downtown Mountain View with the amazing owners Will and Aaron – they always make me laugh in the hardest of yoga poses. When I am smiling and exercising in a 90 degree fahrenheit room I know I am having a good time!!

This pic was taken before it landed on top of me & I still love it! 

I love my bike and the event organized by the Silicon Valley Bicycle Coalition – the Women, Wine and Chocolate event in San Jose. I am thankful to be surrounded by some awesome women who invited me to come and check it out and ride in downtown San Jose on the Women only bike train through the downtown – yay good times for all!

Holding Kelly the chicken

Thankful that I found out about the 4H program through friends in our school community and to see my kids enjoy time outside with animals. Missy is holding a chicken practicing for presenting a chicken in a County Show. No she is not going to do that anytime soon as this was our second meeting, for me it is important for kids to learn to respect animals.

Kelly on the obstacle course – a stick is used to gently guide the chicken to the correct route