Back in the bay and the countdown has begun to the start of school for the year – everyone is pretty happy to go back! We have only 4 days to go, and for me, it is 3 as I start a new job as a Teacher Assistant on Friday with Orientation – how exciting as I have not worked full time for about 9 years!
Since coming back I have enjoyed Granita cocktails with lemon verbena from my neighbours garden and watermelon from my CSA box, absolutely incredible. I made cocktails at a friends house the other night for dinner, and we had mixed melon and mint with lemon and Hangar 1 vodka, just the perfect drink for a tasty Indian meal! Oh I have to mention the inspiration for Granita was from Melbourne from an Italian coffee house called Pellegrini’s where every Friday they made fresh gnocchi and served it with watermelon granita, it was such a treat!
I have loved being back on my bike and getting around the trails I opted for a 7.5-mile ride down the trail early on a Saturday morning and it was just perfect. Smooth riding, flowers in bloom and many bridges to cross.
I have been really enjoying the colours in nature and coming back after spending a month in a dramatic winter scape it is beautiful to see everything in bloom and so alive!
Sometimes I feel like this little guy trapped in its razor wire with one step forward and many steps back with the amount of work I have to get through with University and now planning for a full-time job plus volunteering and taking care of the household. One thing at a time from my list and eventually I get through, and there is more work. Still, it will make the time fly by, before I know it plans will be underway for our house in Oz.
We had an enjoyable hike with our friends from Oakland on Sunday at the halfway meeting point in Pacifica and found this super cool County Park with many eucalyptus trees. There were so many and it was just like being home in Australia. That could be one of the many reasons how I have managed to be here so long, being amongst native trees and enjoying their energy. This tree was just spectacular as it was gigantic, growing like an oak tree with its massive supportive trunk in the centre.
There was so much fog that morning, and it enlivened the trees formations. We walked up and down for around 5 miles, and it was refreshing for all of us with some lovely views along the way. The trees were my favourite as we wandered through the many different landscapes.
The kids were very excited to have found some sibling lizards on the hike and caught them for a bit of play – you can just see them on Ash’s finger sitting together. The bonus was the cafe at the bottom of the hill from the park was Beach Monkey Organic Cafe had tasty food for all of us including delicious Acai bowls!
Not long to go until life changes gear and I start a new chapter of my life for the next 6 months, it is something to look forward to and a super opportunity to engage in for my education degree.
Spring Break last week and we managed to literally get away from the crowds and be the only people camping in a Yurt in a location just over 1 hour away from our house! Now as I write this it seems impossible to get away from ALL the people in the Bay Area because where ever you go within an hour or so from your home there is usually many more Bay Area folks camping or doing whatever within your vicinity. Never in our camping experiences, have we gone away especially during a break from school and been by ourselves! Just to have that experience was incredible so before I spill the location be sure that you don’t mind setting up camp next to a graveyard on an abandoned Naval Base!
This beautiful part of the Bay area was in Vallejo on a peninsula called Mare Island named after the white mare who swam to shore after her ship was sunk. It is a place of beauty and solitude with the added bonus of yurt camping with all the gear supplied including a gas grill and a super clean porta potty close by. The view from the top of the island is of 7 counties surrounding the island and right by the lookout is an art installation called the Spirit Ship in honour of the Naval families who once lived here. Spring brings the beautiful poppies, and the smell of wild fennel was in the air.
Surrounding the Mare Island Preserve are barbed wire fences – man I thought I was in a detention centre in Australia when I saw these familiar eucalyptus trees. But no, looking through the fence I found abandoned houses and buildings still needed to be cleared up by the US Federal Government due to munitions being left behind – I imagine that is a huge task and they have better things to focus on at the moment!
Wandering through the preserve right by the graveyard are some beautiful roses right in bloom for spring and for the two days I loved taking pictures of them in the different light. The graveyard was so peaceful and so old – graves dating back to 1856, this is the oldest Naval cemetery on the West Coast.
My hubby and I wandered to the top of the hill of the afternoon we arrived – the kids get a bit mad about walking up hills, but we know better. The bonus when you climb a hill is always the view, and this panorama is what I saw when I was up there, surrounded by water most of the way with land on the horizon.
Then we came back down to set up the Yurt for the evening. This yurt is made by a local Vallejo yurt maker Yurtastic, and he used billboard fabric for the exterior, roof and floor. What an excellent idea, the light is bright inside, and we had Dory on the floor from Finding Nemo.
Oh, and did I mention the views from the top of the hill, the Spirit Ship in panorama with the detail of the floor beneath the Spirit Ship with nature growing up around it.
Dinner was homemade lentil rolls we heated up on the gas grill – it acted just like an oven! On the side, we had watermelon radish and ate by the candle light of a citronella candle as there were quite a few mozzies though they did not bother us that much.
In the evening our lovely host Myrna took us for a spin with her dog Nitro down to the bunkers. We sat in the back of the truck and saw this island in the light of dusk with the beautiful colours all around. Myrna was the best and so thoughtful with her organisation for the yurt supplies in the outdoor kitchen including an outdoor screened tent, so we were mozzie free. Nitro was the sweetest dog who loved pats and was ever so friendly with all of us, we had such a fun time together.
The next day was Thursday, and we were on our own on after a night of rain over the yurt we thought our riding plans were busted but no, the sun came out, and we borrowed bikes – yes bikes were included in the trip! So we went riding to look for the entrance to the San Pablo Bay Trail entrance and back again. The visitor centre was a place full of Mare Island history including treasures from one of the original residents who grew up on the base and donated her doll and Kanga and Roo from her collection. The other bonus of the visitor centre apart from its massive size is the resident cat Linus, who reminded me so much of my little buddy Macaroni. This guy loved pats and would come up and purr near us, and we happily patted him and gave him love.
The island is full of eucalyptus trees, and after the rain, it smelled of Australia – like I was home. Wild is where nature is at here in this part of the bay with the poppies growing in between the railway tracks. And the kids enjoyed having stick fights with the wild fennel, and that kept them occupied as I wandered the graveyard to see what history this place held. As we were interested in seeing the birds, Myrna loaned us her binoculars so we could watch the baby osprey and the osprey who nests there. This is the view I had through the binoculars to observe the baby birds way up high. We also saw snowy egrets, blue jays, wild turkeys and turkey vultures who call this place home. In the evening we heard the sound of the coyote talking and yipping to each other, lucky we were tucked away in our beds in the Yurt.
We had one last visit to the visitor centre and an evening by the campfire (there are no other places on the island where a campfire is allowed as it dangerous) with Myrna and Eric (another volunteer who shared so much interesting information on photography and nature). We washed the dishes and lay cleaned them and packed them away neatly and off we went to see Linus and the ephemera at the visitor centre. The collection of teacups was beautiful and the evening before Myrna and I shared a pot of rooibos tea in a cup and saucer – very fancy! The fire was perfect for our marshmallows, and we enjoyed learning about the history of Mare Island and its inhabitants.
Soon it was time to leave, and the preserve was open to the public, we wandered down to check out the bunkers the view and got this great picture of all of us in the massive bunker (built during the mid-1920s to store munition). The bunker we checked out had astroturf on the ground and digital print of the first cave painting from Lascaux, France. A bunch of folks had a caveman dinner in the bunkers which explains the paleo inspiration.
And there is Dory on the floor – we were so happy to enjoy our couple of nights getaway from it all. If you are keen to check it out and visit Myrna and Nitro the dog, go to Hipcamp where you can find this yurt and the other romantic yurt for two further up the hill. If your camping party is big just camp in the bunker and watch the sun rise, so many options to camp and support the Mare Island Shoreline Heritage Preserve.
On our way back the sun was shining I took some pictures of the beautiful chapel with its Tiffany windows – you can visit the church with a guided tour which is $5, the kids were done, but I would have loved to have seen them. On the way home, we opted for a walk just below Mt Diablo in a place called Shell Ridge Open Space Preserve where we found a ranch complete with chickens and a sleepy rooster. It felt we were away from civilisation for longer than two days, now that is what I call a break from it all!
Back to study for me as I have an essay tomorrow and Assessment 2 is just around the corner!
This is the year 2017 and time for all those resolutions and all that jazz that never manifest. Last year I was supposed to play my ukelele but did I even pick it up and learn one song – no! I love my ukelele and it is so good to own one and I do need to make time to play if only there were more hours in the day, then maybe?
Now it is back to reality and to regular routine… I have my two subjects a week for this teaching period plus 3 assignments to complete in the next 2 weeks so my time is very limited to socialising and the like. I still need to get out and exercise for my mind, so time on my yoga mat and dancing are priorities. I am really enjoying studying and it gives me a sense of purpose and a goal (at the end of a very long tunnel!) My first group assignment is going along well and it was not as hard as I perceived it to be in fact communicating across the world online with different timezones is so do-able, every day it is done in business which makes me wonder why do business folks still have to have face to face contact and jet around the world constantly? Anyway, that is not my worry, I have to get this blog post written and get on with my reading and weekly tasks for this week for my Education degree…
Our new years eve this year was just the four of us enjoying a lovely dinner of DIY pizza, cocktails using Sonoma organic ginger vodka, loganberry liqueur from Whidbey Island distillers and lemon shrub I made over the summer and tonic water – they went down a treat. A collaboration with my hubby where he made the meringue and I decorated the pavlova sans the cream (as I forgot) turned out to be quite the success. It went down a treat and we shared it with our neighbour who also is a fan of Australia – my good friend in Australia said to me the pavlova was super easy to make and she is a Kiwi and it turned out to be so, though he did spend a lot of time with the hand mixer (I hear the Kitchen Aid is the biz!!).
For New Years Day we mixed it up a bit this year and we abandoned the idea of brunching with friends and decided to start the year off with something we have not done in the 10 years we have lived in the Bay Area. Why we have not done this is a complete mystery but as it turned out the 1st day of the year was a perfectly, clear, sunny day to walk the Golden Gate Bridge! Every time we drive over it seems so surreal that we are living here – well we live in the suburbs of San Francisco so it is not like living in a city! Anyway, I will not complain, I do love the sunshine 🙂 To start the year off on something new was a bold move for us and we plan to do many more adventures like this in the time we have left in the United States. That is if my plan works to escape and head on back home!
The views from the bridge are absolutely spectacular and on a day with zero fog and sunshine, it was just amazing to see what this city has to offer. I loved the views of the bridge walking under it and I loved to admire the incredible engineering. The cables viewed from the walking paths with their curves were to behold and the view of the city just wonderful – it is such a beautiful bridge and a glorious bay it is no wonder that people love living here!
Here is a rare image of my hubby and myself finally in front of the Golden Gate Bridge – we had some time to talk about our future while we were away on vacay. Time alone without children screaming the background or media to distract us – now we know where we both stand it is up to us to take life where we want to go. The future can always be scary so a bit of investigation in the job market and where we are both going in life has to be examined before any big decisions are made! The love locks we found on the Golden Gate are from lovers who have used a lock as a symbol of their love and then thrown away the key – what a sweet gesture, I thought it was for suicide victims whew thank goodness they were not as that would be a lot of unnecessary deaths of couples!
I really enjoyed the light of the day the other day with the bridge and wandering along being together as a family. This holiday has really brought us together and it is so good to see the kids in a relaxed mode and enjoying each others company which is why I captured this pic of the two of them chatting away, they are both growing up so fast! Oh and check out the tunnel we had to travel through to get to the bridge, it is quite the adventure going into a little Hobbit tunnel.
So to new beginnings and how to move along 2017 in such a positive light! I plan to do more photography, ride my bike often (see this ride across the bridge for a bit of a long day of riding!) and bake more – this is a clafoutis that I made from apple and berries and it was divine. It is such a simple recipe I found in Sunset magazine using my Vitamix and oh yes I need to use my blender to make smoothies and all that goodness. Really it is so important to stay positive and full of light in the coming year and be there to support each other – I don’t want to mention here why but I think most people know the doom that exists on the horizon.
Last weeks post I started a reverse applique project that has turned into somewhat of a habit that I am enjoying! This is the skirt I have been working on in panels – I plan to wear this to the Maker Faire coming up on May 15th. I am volunteering with Swap o Rama Rama this year who upcycle clothes into new beginnings. I had a blast last year chatting to so many people and assisting them in their creations! So my outfit is going to consist of upcycled fabric from FabMo and the skirt has been bedazzled 🙂 with a bedazzler from my neighbors yard sale!! The skirt needs some elastic at the top and then it will be complete. I am still working out the top in the same fabric – I am off to collect some more fabric tomorrow if it is still around at FabMo.
Front of the skirt – bedazzling in progress
The back of the skirt with a double reverse applique.
Also the bandanas have been an excellent portable project – made from the scraps. Here is one I made this week that my daughter likes to wear.
Keep that hair outta my face!
The culmination of all the rehearsals was last weekend taking up the whole weekend my daughter performed in two of the In Wonderland shows and my son was in every one working crew backstage. The show was just incredible so amazing to see the kids in character and so happy to be part of such a wonderful show written and directed by one of our talented parents at school. Even though I was exhausted from driving back and forth to rehearsal I cannot wait until next year’s play – I love theatre so much 😀
The kids before the Friday night show
Having a fun time at the finale song – Here I go again on my own, Going down the only road I’ve ever known! Check out video – pure 80s!!
The chamomile cast singing together!! Such a professional production – the kids are so talented.
This week after a week away in Hawaii it was tough going getting back into the swing of things. So much to catch up on and time for creativity was limited to the kitchen. I have found a love of salads and all things micro green coming into spring. So the inspiration from Hawaii was high and reflected in the dinners this week.
The grilled shrimp is from the Zippy Kale Pesto I found on taste.com.au – I used a rice noodle instead of pasta noodles and added radish, micro greens and lemon zest, yummo!
Grilled Shrimp on Kale Pesto noodles with micro greens and radish
The kitties missed us so much when we were gone that they lay with us when we were relaxing on the couch in the evenings. We missed them too ^..^
I started a crochet hat for my friend many times and finally worked out how to do it after many attempts and tutorials online. The eureka moment was when I found out how to actually work the stitch of the front and back loop. And then I could get on with it – I am still working it as there is other work to be completed for the Arts Focus Sewing session this week at school!
A hat for my friend
Finally we enjoyed some incredible lentil tacos for dinner towards the end of the week with this incredible recipe. I accidentally added coconut oil to the lentils as they were cooking and that made such a tasty addition to the lentils and shitake mushrooms.The miso herb sauce I used kale instead of herbs and on top the salad of radish, carrots and microgreens. Oh so fresh.
Maybe it is the yoga classes I am checking out at the moment too! I went to my neighbors class in Palo Alto which was wonderful as my friend is a super amazing yoga teacher and I really felt it in my shoulders and body the next day. Later in the week I went to another local yoga studio downtown and enjoyed a hot yoga class – I did not realize how much I would enjoy it, now I am going back for more! I was enjoying the beach yoga in Hawaii and now it has had an effect on my exercise routine!
Yet another week that flew by with many things to do and the completion of the year book for my son’s class I had been working on. That was a huge task but I was thankful that we had a lot of pictures to choose from! It was just like the old days working as a graphic designer to a deadline and sending my work to print – thank goodness for the experience to complete projects and make the deadline.
The cover of the 40 page yearbook – green is a popular colour with the Stingray mascot
I had my ceramics class on Wednesday to have some time to play and with a bit of luck I do hope my planters come out as I planned – ceramics is a very tricky medium and I know that a lot of experience is needed to get things right. A lot of keeping track of what works will add to the success of a piece – experimentation is fun though random! This week it was a lot of hand building and seeing what I could do without slab building and using moulds – I will post some pieces once they are fired and glazed.
The big event this week was the Maker Faire all day on Saturday, starting at 6am! I decided I would volunteer this year for something different and an opportunity through the SF Etsy team to volunteer with Swap O-Rama-Rama came my way. I worked over 5 hours on my shift and it was a very long day but so much fun. There was never too much idle time as there are people coming through the tent all the time – it was very inspiring to see what people were making with discarded clothes. I had read about Swap O-Rama-Rama ages ago in a sewing book and thought ooh it would be fun to be involved and little did I know I could get a gig to be part of it!
I love the Bubble Guy!!
In action at the Swap O-Rama-Rama tent
Sunday was a day of a couple of kids parties with some resting in between. My plans for my next projects are in the works and I found some fabric from FabMo to upcycle into a design for the Rickshaw Bags Design Competition for SF Etsy members. The brief is to design a bag flap for their range of the zero messenger bags – I have seen them on a couple of etsy buddies of mine and they are the perfect size messenger bag. My idea was to do the rail quilt design that I saw recently at a volunteer gig with my hula teacher – she is super crafty and makes loads of toys and quilts for people in need. So I sliced up some fabric at 2.5″ each slice and then pieced it together to see what I could come up with and voila a diamond shape pattern known as on point in the quilting world – who knew that this idea of quilting would translate so well with these fabrics! I am very happy with the design and the look on the bag is certainly very stylish, if I do say so myself 😉
The rail quilt design on point using some stunning FabMo fabric
The last couple of weekends before the Summer holidays came to a close we went day tripping with the family – I had this Groupon for Bowling for 2 hours which we all loved playing 2 games. My other half did really well on his first game of bowling and thrashed the lot of us – beginners luck! Afterwards we had worked up an appetite and we found this super Persian bakery and cafe close by that baked this amazing bread called Sangak Bread. We all had a wonderful feast and I enjoyed this delicious vegan wrap with lentils.
If you are ever near Santana Row – go local and check out Yeganeh Bakery, the food and service is amazing!
We met out Oakland friends at the Pacific Pinball Museum at Alameda in the East Bay for a super day out by the beach (it can be a bit stinky – I recommend pinball all the way!!). You can wander in there and play for $15 / $7.5 all day unlimited and they have an amazing collection of pinball machines. I just loved it as I went back to when I was young and the days of when I had a pinball machine at my house and played it all day and night! I think Santa bought us a pinball machine for Christmas, what a score of a prezzo…
The kids playing pinnie at a collection of the mid century machines
Since the kiddos went back to school I have been hard at work creating my range of goodies for the FabMo Textile Art Boutique on the 27th October! Anyhow for those of you that are not familiar with all the goodness FabMo do for the community here is the lowdown… FabMo (a non-profit) collect interior design fabric samples and other bits and pieces to distribute to the public once a month to purchase by the bagful! You are only limited to your imagination as to what you can make.
Talk about getting organised… Here are some pics of my Domestic Goddess range that includes aprons, cushions, pincushions, totes and bags – whew! There has been a lot of cutting and sewing going on in my little craft room.
A work in progress – this may have been a curtain in a previous life!
Here are a few of the bags and totes that I have made from cotton/linen samples and even a sample from Missoni, super special indeed.
The finished tote bag lined with cotton
A tote bag made from a stiff exterior fabric embellished with a pocket
A linen/cotton tote with Missoni fabric pocket detail
These bags are amazing – I could only make a couple as the raw silk was the size of a curtain length and these bags are quite large, perfect for the market.
Superstar raw silk bag with a gorgeous patterned pocket
We attended this years Maker Faire and there was a tonne of stuff to check out. After arriving on time and waiting in a line that snaked it’s way around the car park we were finally in. Thank goodness for hats and a cool breeze with the sun shiny day. We now know for future Maker Faire trips we will catch the train in and use the alternative entrance to save the waiting in line. The Tapigami installation is something I was really interested in as it is made entirely from masking tape – more info on the link about how this was created. Another highlight was the homegrown exhibit with anything from beekeeping to survival in the wild. A lot of crafty goodness was to be had with the kids enjoying the needle felted animals. And of course we had a crazy time in the dark warehouse full of neon and bright lights – just like clubbing with your family, make sure you hold on tight!