Chicken sitting

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This week we are chicken sitting, and we are just loving having a couple of bantam hens in the back garden eating bugs and wandering around. We have a makeshift cage out the back made out of a dog run, and they come inside at night time, just to be safe away from those criminals of the night – the racoons. I have heard some horror stories or racoons and chickens, not good at all. This little cutie is Nova, and she belongs to another friend in the chicken project, so we are taking extra care of her.

Sunday we met our friends from Oakland in the San Francisco Botanical Gardens and I just love this place. Unfortunately, it was full of people looking at their phones participating in a worldwide Pokemon Go tournament. So we walked carefully on the paths making sure we did not run into the Pokemon Go peeps not paying attention to where they were going.

Our first stop in the garden was the Austalia and New Zealand section of plants, and it was like being at home, so we added a lyrebird sound effect to make it seem like we were back in Oz. The ferns were amazing, and the Lilly pilly (bottom centre picture) was in bloom, and they looked delicious and apparently they can be eaten! It really made me homesick and being among native flora really makes you feel like you are there.

We wandered over to the neighbours across the meadow to find a wonderous redwood grove, and it felt just like hiking in the redwoods. The redwood sorrel was in full bloom after all the rain, and the meadow nearby was filled with little white daisy-like flowers.

We kept on coming back to the Australian section each time finding something new like the native Holly which was funny. The kids said look, Holly, this is you! Plus we saw old man Banksia in its stages of growth with its spiky leaves.

The kids were hanging for ice cream as the botanical garden was not as exciting for them as it was for the adults. We then found the twirl and dip ice cream truck across the way and went on over to the Shakespeare garden for an afternoon of flowers and sonnets, it makes me want to read some Shakespeare in my spare time.

Back at school/work today and the kids in the kindergarten class are ready for their next project – bees! It is going to be super exciting with their first exploration of drawing their impression of what a bee looks like to them in their art class this afternoon.

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Later in the afternoon, I wandered over to City Hall to check out the art exhibition from our Arts Focus kids, and I found Ms Hollys beautiful tapestry purse. I will have to find out how she made this little beauty!

Farewell Arts Focus for another year!

Last week it was our final week of Arts Focus with some very talented sewers from our school. I was really impressed with this owl fleece hat – I think this student has set the bar high for the next session! The quilt we made was given to our school principal as a gift for her baby, here is a detail of it – embroidered by one of the students.

This 2017-2018 session we brought in some new projects such as the yarn octopus and felt emoji. For the second session, we introduced the button tree to fill in some time as we had a lot of older grade kids (5th grade choose what class they would like to do as their final class). My co-lead also made the kids get fancy with their pillow making which is always a plus to see the kids stretch their creativity. The pipe cleaner doll and embroidery on the bottom left was made by a kinder girl who sewed such beautiful stitches. A favourite of mine is the platypus embroidery sewn by one of the 5th-grade girls in the class.

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At the school where I work the students have been busy making a dollhouse for the auction coming up this weekend. The kids started with making little dolls of themselves and in true Reggio fashion, it evolved into something magical – this dollhouse. With some help from their science and art specialists, this all came together. I am helping them with pipe cleaner dolls this week to give away with the house when it goes up for auction this Saturday evening. Tomorrow we will wrap the yarn around the pipe cleaners and define the bodies of all these dolls lazing around in the playroom of the house 😀

It was back to University over the weekend and what better way to get the brain going on this clean eating diet I am currently on is to have grilled sardines over sauteed kale and roasted garlic topped with watermelon radish and tomato – very tasty with a dash of sriracha.

The annual Holi celebration my friend celebrates each year was a lot of fun on Sunday. We were very lucky to have the sunshine and warm weather after our all out splash of colour followed by buckets of water.

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To add to this weeks collection of food I am looking at lentils as a high protein food so I needed to discover new recipes to eat them and this came to mind after enjoying lentils in Melbourne last year.

Black Lentils with Grilled Asparagus topped with watercress and goat cheese salad

1 cup black lentils (cooked)
1 small onion (cut finely)
Olive oil
1 cup diced tomatoes
1 teaspoon Smoked paprika
1 tablespoon miso mixed in a small amount of stock (a thick consistency)
Salt and pepper (to taste)

Bunch of watercress
Tomato
Goat cheese (as much as you would like!)

Method

  1. While waiting for the lentils put the asparagus in some oil on the grill.
  2. Simmer onion on a skillet in a little oil until transparent, add lentils.
  3. Mix onions and lentils and add diced tomatoes.
  4. Mix through miso and stock through the lentils and add salt and pepper to taste.
  5. Finish with watercress, tomato and goat cheese.

Sewing a little love

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Another week flies by, and it was back to Arts Focus on Thursday. Our little button tree extra project is looking really good now, and it gives the kids a good reason to sew a button onto something as a group project. The class for the LED cuffs went well as I made a video this year for the LED cuffs to show on the big TVs in the classroom. An excellent outcome of the class is when the kids hardly make any mistakes and hopefully follow the correct steps from the diagram and the video, so I call that class a win. Next time though I will not be stressing out from stopping and starting the video and handing out the materials required, the kids do not realise how much energy goes into these classes and we DO need more volunteers!

This week I am eating like a rabbit with many takes on salads for this low-fat exercise diet I will be on for the next 3 months. Checking out my calories on the Fat Secret app I need to up my protein intake to build muscle. So at a confused point on how to make this happen last week, I made an Asian salad with tofu and nori. Saturday was an eat anything day as friends invited us over for a delicious quiche dinner with ice cream sandwich for dessert and to top it off, a couple of glasses of red wine. I made a kale salad with Brussels, beets and sunflower seeds to go with the quiche and it was perfect.

Sunday we caught up with friends who moved out of our neighbourhood and now live in San Jose by this beautiful stretch of rolling green hills and oak trees. It was so lovely to be outside after the rain and see new leaves on the trees. The kids even found a geocache box full of crap!

I am hoping I get the hang of this exercise diet thing this week before I head on back to my studies this weekend – whoo hoo here’s to another 12 weeks of work, study and life!

 

Relaxation at last

It is no wonder my lack of sleep is catching up with me now – it all started with staying up each night finalising my Case Study for my final assignment for the teaching period. Now that I am done this week it is such a weight lifted and I feel free for a month and I can catch up on other things that I have left behind!

The fun last week was the Super Blue Blood Moon which we woke up for at 5:30am on Wednesday morning – it was very early but so worth it just to see the red moon – incredible! I have pictures from the NASA Live coverage plus a couple of pictures I took with my phone camera and you can see the tiny dot in a sea of black!

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Thursday we had week 3 of Arts Focus and it was embroidery and fleece pillows with a button and as our class has been working so well and completing their projects, my co-lead came up with the button tree blankie so the kids can have practice sewing buttons!

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I was back at work on Friday morning and the kids found a freshly hatched monarch butterfly drying in the sunshine, it was just beautiful to experience – you can see the cocoon just above in the bush.

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Come Friday the opening of the Community School of Music and Art School show was on display and work by Miss H was there so I dashed in to take a pic of it. This is her second piece on display with the CSMA over the last year and hopefully, we get her peacock pastel drawing back from the school soon.

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Saturday was a Ride with Lenny the Mountain View Mayor and Safe Mountain View and Great Streets were there to help out on the day and I found peeps who love Public bikes and here is mine in red, Janet’s in white and Tracy’s in Green – looking very Italian! We are all bike advocacy folks who enjoy our commuter bikes 😀

Sunday we finally had a family day of relaxation at the beach and enjoyed a small amount of time at the beach with a walk and a dip in the icy cold Pacific Ocean, it felt so good to be burying my feet in the sand and grounding with the earth.

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The kids were hungry so we wandered to downtown Santa Cruz and it was so quiet and lovely – maybe because the Superball/bowl was on and everyone was partying with their big screen TVs and dip? Anyway, we were out and about and found this brunch place right at the end of the main drag with these delicious poached eggs on a couple of muffins with avocado and hollandaise sauce with a pot of Japanese green tea – now that is what I like and thank you, Santa Cruz, for being so cool!

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Lulu Carpenter’s was a very lovely cafe with outdoor seating both on the main drag and out the back in a courtyard with a bunch of tables in the middle with students working away on their computers – I was glad not to be one this weekend! The range of teas was just divine and I really enjoy a good cup of tea I even had a decent cup rather than a mug to drink my tea which is refreshing for a cafe in America.

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And for our next visit to Santa Cruz, the Museum of Art and History looks like fun – we missed an event on yarn bombing, these guys are speaking my language!!

Arts with some crafts

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Yes, we can be bigger together, and it was such a big week of amazing art and time with incredible talented children! My friend, a ceramic artist, volunteers with our school and made this beautiful display of student work inspired by the book BIG by Coleen Paratore.

In addition to the ceramic works here are a few of my faves at the show – at tribal mask made in the 3D class, a dragon made in the materials class and a picture on wood in the photography class. Of course, there was so much more art I loved, but I was too busy chatting with friends and socialising to get more pics!

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Thursday was the second arts focus class, and our amazing class of lots of enthusiastic sewers made some beautiful octo-pie from yarn.

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This talented 5th grader made a super cool cat hat out of fleece that I will feature in the art show.

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Another of young student made her octopus with help braiding from a 5th grader.

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This is an extra project made by a 5th grader who chose to be in sewing – I am so happy to see such creative and talented sewers ready to work with a needle.

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In my kinder class, the kids are working on ideas for a dollhouse and this is what they came up with for the kids working with blocks, and they have included their little dolls in the scene too. This is a wonderful way to explore architecture.

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These two rascals enjoyed chicken time on Monday with the yin and yang chickens Luna and Snowflake.

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And I am counting the time until my oven is fixed – the heating element broke last Thursday, and since then I have been trying to get it fixed when some clowns said they would charge $400 to fix it when the part alone is $70 now that is extortion. So my hubby said he could fix it for me though let’s see how that unfolds, till then I have to be creative with the sandwich grill as I used that to grill the fish for Taco Tuesday today.

Anyway here is our delicious wild salmon rice bowl from Monday night as I wanted something easy for a Monday and a rice cooker is an excellent option of cooking while making something else – like the crispy salmon skin and salad.

 

A four day week of busy-ness

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These two little animals in their groovy little house were made by the Kinders with their these Magna tiles to play with on the light table. They are so colourful, and I love seeing the creations made by the kids. Kindergarten is such a fun age to be in the classroom.

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Other fun prep ideas with the salad in a jar taken to another level by storing it in the IKEA jars that you can have a fresh salad on hand for lunch or even when you are making a quick dinner over the weekend.

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Thursday came around all too quickly and the second session of arts focus began! I was teaching with minimal instruction this time as we have dedicated volunteers for each table group. The kids made a stellar effort on both of their first-week crafts of a pincushion and a fleece hat complete with embellishments. I left the class thinking that went so well, and how great it is to reflect on the first session. We examined what went wrong and how to improve it for the next time (it does help we have more 5th grade kids!) I planned to get the kids into working their projects as soon as possible with minimal direct instruction on the rug.

These little wooden people were made with our art teacher at Ventana for the children’s story workshop where this character represents themselves for a personal narrative they will be writing. I love how they have come out, and even the one in blue to me looked like a grandma, but it is the persona of the little girl in the story with a swimsuit on and a swimming cap and just super cute!

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Friday I went to work and helped with the kids in 1st grade as one of the grandparents Nonna is helping the class make this fantastic quilt for the auction prize from their class. They have made hand prints, and she was getting the kids to place the border around the quilt from the scraps. It is so detailed, and Nonna is one talented quilter – I am quite excited to see the process directly from a professional. She has made the continents on a sea of blue in the centre which took ages to piece together! One trick she showed me when carrying her quilt back home was to use a pool noodle to wrap the quilt in – such a cool idea.

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Thursday was a big day for my hubby and my daughter who became a part of Russian history at Fort Ross for an overnight field trip. They both had night watch with 2am for the little one whose name was Paraskov’ia Kulika and she was a Gardner. My hubby was a clerk at the store, and he traded goods to all the workers. They both came back Friday quite tired, but we did go out and catch up with friends for a birthday that evening. 

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Then came the weekend and I was studying and trying to focus on doing a decent amount of work. We enjoyed time out with friends on Friday, and after study on Saturday, I like to go meet friends at the park and take the kids to play. Sunday came, and we went to see. Mary and the Witch’s Flower by Hiromasa Yonebayashi – famous for Howl’s Moving Castle, Princess Mononoke and Ponyo. We went to enjoy the exquisite detailed Japanese animation. The story was lovely, and my son really enjoyed it so much it is now his second favourite film with The Lego Movie for the number one positionI highly recommend this movie for its rich animation and for the fun and original story inspired by the book The Little Broomstick by Mary Stewart, plus it has cats in it!

Here comes the rain again

It was lovely to see the rain last week even though it was inside recess and I did not get to go out of the classroom to enjoy the fresh air of winter. The highlight was Thursday when I saw the sunshine at last which made me realise I probably would not enjoy endless overcast days without the sun!

With the kindergarten class, I work with I enjoy watching the kids interact during curiosity time – a time where they get to explore materials and create little stories with each other. We were lucky enough to have a light table in the room and I remember when I was at the Portland children’s museum and saw these Magna tiles on the lightbox it was just beautiful. Unfortunately, this lightbox needs a bit of a fix and we did not enjoy the light shining through these!

The scene above of the forest animals arranged in their territories was created by M and I love to see what she comes up with every day – there is even a bit of moss in the scene and the wooden circles make the best materials to create stories with for the kids.

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Thursday began the show at Mountain View City Hall where we hung the pieces for the art show which is running until January 26th, the range of work is incredible from the ceramics to the weaving and dying to photography and theatre. Our school is so lucky to have such a wonderful program for the kids to enjoy. We introduced a couple of new projects in sewing class this session an emoji keyring and a yarn octopus. The projects went well with most of the kids giving a personality to their emoji and the yarn octopus had a lot of braiding so the kids who could not braid were a bit stuck with this one. The quilt was also a new design creating community amongst the kids and switching out pieces to sew to create the 9 square pattern plus my co-lead kept track of each square so that the kids could embroider their initials on the square they made, even the leads embroidered their initial in the center, see the T and the G.

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Because of the rain, the kids wanted to have ramen and I flat out refused as I could not be bothered to go downtown to try and find parking in amongst all the tech heads who invade our downtown during the week. It is great for the business of the restaurants but I just cannot be bothered to wait in line for dinner and listen to a bunch of people talking about themselves. Anyway enough of my rant about downtown Mountain View, there are many people who love it for this energy but after work, the last thing I want to do is wait for ramen in the rain amongst a bunch of self-centred geeks. So I promised the kids I would make a vegan ramen and my fave is the Minimalist Baker vegan broth and we just add whatever we have in the fridge as the toppings. This has some mushrooms, radish, broccoli, capsicum and tofu and it was just divine. The plan is to make a big pot of it and have it in big Mason jar ready to heat up and add the Miso and the veggies, super easy weeknight meal.

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The other tasty dinner was a riff on the Japanese pizza I made last week using egg, cabbage and flour on the cooked vegetables and bake this in the oven for around 30 minutes at 375 degrees and there’s dinner a frittata (of sorts) with a ready-made salad. The leftovers are a perfect addition to a sandwich with some mayo – delish!

Adaptations

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Last week was a big one with beginning the week preparing for my last week in Arts Focus for the first session. Switching gears from a chaotic classroom and driving to work in the afternoon has been quite intense, bringing with it lots of excitement to the day and by Friday I am beat! We even ended up last week with a night out with the ladies to a Thai restaurant at 8pm, I was ready to be on the couch by then but I made it out till after 10pm and had a lovely time catching up with friends.

We did pipe cleaner dolls with the kids on Thursday at school and they loved them and I have a few for the art show come January next year at Mountain View City Hall.

I was always fascinated with this picture of this caterpillar when I was a kid and I found it again in a bugs book in the 1st grade class I help teach. I loved the detail in the colours and the body on this guy and always wondered about that massive enlarged face of the caterpillar, it still fascinates me to this day – maybe it is the colours of this guy?

As it turns out my work has asked me to stay until school is out for the summer so I am very excited about this wonderful opportunity to work with an incredible cohort of teachers and gain so much experience in this education journey. I will be covering a maternity position and be working with the kinder and 1st grade kids. Time to be a bit more organised and balance all the work with my study that I am a bit behind on 😦 This is the last week of school before the holidays which I am looking forward to as we are going to the Joshua Tree National Park!

Viewing the arts

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A week of art and craft happened last week with a field trip to the Asian Art Museum in San Francisco on Friday with the 2nd graders.

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The kids had exploration one day of the week and created many fun objects, this doll was inspired by the pipe cleaner dolls.

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At the volunteer sewing teaching, we were working on LED cuffs, and these are examples of the Kinder and 1st-grade students.

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I was teaching the 2nd graders to make Gods eyes in their exploration time – so much fun yarn to make holiday decorations.

Friday came, and it was time for the field trip to San Francisco! The kids were very excited, and we drove up in the morning for a 10am Storytelling throughout the museum with volunteers. They told us many stories beginning with the story of Lakshmi and Diwali the festival of lights then we travelled to Indonesia to view Kris (daggers) and listen to a folk story and the last story was about Ganesh riding on a rat with his love of laddoos. Our storyteller Monique was so full of character and brought the stories to life!

After lunch and no running around the kids and their chaperones and teachers went wandering around the museum. We found many beautiful textiles, which I love plus little tiny colourful snuff bottles and this nephrite shepherd with his goats. The Asian Art Museum has something for everyone, though our 2nd-grade class maybe could enjoy it more if there were more Pokemon!

Couture Korea was an exhibit the kids really enjoyed with many kimono to view and also to touch with fabric samples on the information panel – the interactive was a plus with these guys! Of course, I really enjoyed it too being a textile lover and always wanting to touch interesting fabrics and seeing detailed clothing design. The majority of the pieces were silk and felt beautiful.

Come the weekend I enjoyed a white elephant exchange with my work friends and a tasty dinner of savoury crepes and potluck appetisers. Saturday was a bike ride day and catching up on study and Sunday the house needed a bit of sprucing up after I enjoyed a fabulous Thai massage at Sawadee down the road, it was well needed and has enlivened my soul, namaste.