2017 The year of exploring new frontiers


This year I am on a mission to visit places that we have not explored before and this means getting out a map and going OK this is something different let’s give it a go. So today we visited a place we have been before for camping and a picnic but never for a hike!! The hike within the park is an area called Phleger Estate that was saved with the help of the Peninsula Open Space Trust in 1995 protecting the second growth redwood forest for future generations. Coming from Washington State with all the green and visiting this preserve after the rains we appreciated seeing the green on the trees and the water in the creeks here in the Bay Area at long last!


The highlight of having the rains and the creeks full of water is locating these little fellas, the California Newt – with the amazing camouflage they are quite hard to find as they blend in with the undergrowth but we did manage to find two. We may be going newt tracking as there will be more to be found in other parks around the Bay – especially Butano State Park. They are very hard to photograph too even though they are quite slow they easily get lost amongst their surroundings.

I took out my 50mm low light lens into the forest today to see how it performs under the shade of the trees and I am so impressed! I would have many more beautiful shots if I had thought of this when we were in Washington recently as the overcast day combined with the shade of trees made it pretty tricky to take pics. I love the detail of this lens especially for close up images of moss and fungi and I found so many after the rain.


Entering the Golden Gate National Recreation Area – need to find more hikes
Brilliant white fungi
These are so special with the way they grow – so inspiring for textiles
The creeks are flowing beautifully
The mossy grandfather tree with the second growth redwoods behind
After the storm, this tree came down across the trail
Close up of a redwood cone and its babies


As an example of some of the images taken today with the 50mm fixed lens – you do get stuck sometimes if you want to capture more in the frame but it worked today for the subjects of close-up foliage and landscapes of the river. The trees can be tricky with their height depending on your angle.

In the BA Hiker info page, there was an emphasis on the signposts on the trail so I had to take a picture of this one with the horse and the Indian. As we were wandering through the trail I saw power lines going through and what is a power line without a pair of sneakers hanging from them – this runner must have had enough!


Pegasus with a wig
In honour of David Cronenberg’s Naked Lunch?
Yum homemade granola and yoghurt
Excited for his burger and chips!
Everything has to have a side of bacon for this girl!
Nothing like an ice cream for the Lady Liberty herself!


After our hike as we were in Woodside we visited a legendary cafe – (again something we have not experienced) for lunch. This place is called Buck’s of Woodside and they serve breakfast until 2:30 pm on public holidays so we were sorted following our hike. They did have a delicious choice of meals for lunch on the menu too! It is a place where my Uncle would just love as it reminded me of his House of Vintage back in Australia. What a collection of stuff in there and there’s a whole catalogue of it on the website as an added bonus the food was fresh and tasty and the service was excellent! (This is saying a lot for an American restaurant – usually, service is pretty mediocre, I come from Melbourne where the service is exemplary).

On our way home from hike and lunch it was our day to spend time with the ladies – the chickens, and they were so excited to get out into the sunshine and do their chicken yoga in the grass and run around. Here is Missy with her new chicken MichelleBella. And of course, as I had my camera I could not resist the goats on the farm!


Oh, look at this cute pygmy goat!
Ash hanging out with a baby goat


A piece a Week – Mama time out in Portland

Friday finally came and I was so tired and the thought of getting on a plane was exhausting! The family dropped me off at San Francisco International to board my flight in time – you know to allow for the security and all and once I was through all that it was time to relax!!! 
I got out my knitting and waited for the announcement to board the plane to have a nice little nap before my friend picked me up around 10:30 at night. It was worth getting there in the evening though we all managed to chat until 1 o’clock in the morning, so it was a late night! 2013  was the last time I had visited Portland!! 
After a bit of a sleep in we headed out to brunch and a bit of shopping at vintage store and my favorite shoe store Imeldas. And shopping in Portland is so much fun as I love the clothes plus the bonus is having no sales tax, especially when buying shoes!!
Waiting in the rain for brunch at Roost
So the first stop was Harlow in Hawthorne and I enjoyed the Mercy Blues for Brunch – sitting on top of herbed polenta were two poached eggs, steamed kale, black beans, corn and slow roasted tomatoes with a creamy chipotle cashew hollandaise, paprika and scallions with a side of avocado. Now that is what I call a wonderful start to the day – I paired it with the kombucha on tap, my favorite Yerba Mate. Sure if I am living in San Francisco I can get a brunch like this but Portland is my haven for food! I love how all the cafes take a responsibility to serve ethically and sustainably and most importantly locally!! I never eat brunch in Mountain View the offerings are very slim.
After brunch we headed out onto SE Hawthorne Boulevard for some shopping and finally scoring some gifts, a book at Powells and I found some boots then it was time for dinner at the Block and Tackle. We had a plate of fresh oysters which were divine followed by an amazing roast vegetable salad with a yoghurt curry dressing. My friend and I shared the most amazing Black Cod that melted in your mouth and an Octopus dish in a chowder broth – going out and experiencing food like this is what I live for. 
Dinner at the Block and Tackle – cocktails, oysters and seafood

Sunday we headed out to brunch at Roost – yet another delicious brunch with their ‘eggs till 2’ menu with smoked trout, eggs, onions on a thick toast with a creamy sauce – just look at that, this is how I get the inspiration for my own cooking at home!

My what an amazing way to start the day!
Bloody Marys all around with our brunch
What trigged a mama vacay away was a trip to see the Italian Style exhibition at the Portland Art Museum. What an inspiring exhibition especially for me to see the designs from 1945 to present day and to see the influence Italy has had on fashion. From the most beautifully designed dresses, to the fabric design and textiles, to the weaving mills with the knitwear and cashmere, the shoes (of course!!) and the exquisite beading and detailing. Filming in Italy with such classics as Roman Holiday were featured as well as the Alfa Romeo Spider and a Vespa – an original Vespa, one of only 3 left in the world. 
Just outside the exhibit 
Hanging outside the exhibition reflections on a sculpture

Traveling around Portland in style with my friends listening to 80s and wandering around every store with the same 80s mix is what this weekend was about. No I didn’t bring home any 80’s fashions unfortunately, as I have been there before!!

Nothing like the 1980’s
For my last dinner with my friends family was at Dick’s – a little innuendo is always appreciated and a lot of fun. We had burgers and fries, I enjoyed a salmon burger and very tasty sweet potato fries that are air baked. And these guys had Kombucha on tap too – Portland to me is a foodie lovers paradise. For dessert I enjoyed the Paleo Parfait and was ready for the flight back home. The pic below is in the back streets from the main drag in the Sunnyside neighborhood – I found lots of little sculptures in the street and a mandala painted on the road, my people!

Happy to drive this roundabout! 

Farewell to Portland and hopefully I will be back soon maybe to get another tattoo – a wonderful respite from the Bay Area craziness and back to a creative heaven where people care about the earth, their food and a slower pace to life.

At the airport – art and a piano playing, aaah!

This weeks ceramics pieces I made at home and glazed in class – a couple of succulent pots and small sauce bowls. The kids bought me a succulent from the market this weekend and it fits perfectly.

Multi coloured ceramics
Monday was a day off school so we went looking for a USPS mailbox! They are rare creatures indeed, I looked it up on USPS and found this one. 
Hello Mailbox, nice to meet  you!

Oh and Monday night I had planned a night out on the town at my favorite restaurant in Mountain View Xahn check out the presentation and the feast we had. This is the vegetarian tacos, papaya salad, vege buddha rolls and smoked salmon on prawn crackers. This spread is what is on offer for Happy Hour and I am always happy with the Lychee Martini at $5 each it is the best way to spend a couple of hours with the ladies.

Xahn for happy hour is the best!