Celebration & good times

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Monday was my hubby’s birthday so I got rid of all the crap on the dining table and created this lovely posy of plants from the garden.

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This is one of my fave quiches to make for a special occasion – the Spinach Impossible Pie with crumbled feta, spinach, cheese and egg custard, made with a base from the pie book below so that was meatless Monday dinner.

I had to stop briefly in amongst my assessment writing over the weekend to get some celebrations happening for my hubby! I always love preparing a good feast for birthdays and the menu started on Sunday with a Strawberry Crumble pie – made from scratch with my kitchen helper Missy with a lemongrass cream, so divine!

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Heres the surprise birthday cake on a relaxed Sunday morning – well for some of us who did not have to get up early to make a birthday pie!

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This was hot out of the oven which is why there’s a piece of bread with candles to celebrate, it was super tasty and from my favourite pie book – A Year of PiesThe pie was meant to sit for an hour before we ate it but it was so good we tucked into it straight away!

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Oh, I always love a cocktail for a party so I made this watermelon fennel cocktail, it went down so well – the kids loved the juice, hehehe they had no idea about the fennel.

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This has been my number 1 drink for focusing, a nice cup of Matcha tea – discovered in Queensland with my sister. This is a coconut matcha which is probably way high in fat but if you are into Paleo this is the biz for you.

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The countdown has begun and as of tomorrow, I have 3 months left in the United States. I am getting rid of so much stuff and giving it away to neighbours who I don’t even know which is excellent as they are going to people who are happy to enjoy it. The shelves are emptying when I get need a brain break from study. My sewing and study room is slowly getting rid of fabric – I have a couple of projects before I put the machine and fabric away for the year. Our bedroom is getting rid of pictures and excess clothes – I still need to work on that space! The kid’s room is slowly getting there – though I have a plan to get rid of more stuff! The lounge needs to get rid of furniture but that will come later before we sell up and go. A plan is really starting to develop and I scored a great flight with taking myself and the kids back in December and my hubby will come for a trip in 2019 and then sell this place and come back for good.

So much stuff to do after living here for 12 years and it is strange to finally say I am going home to Melbourne FOR GOOD! It is so exciting as I am happy and things are falling into place. I have the kids enrolled in schools that I really like, one in primary and one in high school. The house remodel is still moving along and scheduled to start as planned. Once everything is a little settled maybe I could do a practicum for University at a primary school, it may have to wait another year until we have our house. I am so happy to be going back and finally be at home with my family and friends, the future is looking bright again!

 

Two O 1 8 make it great!

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Looking through the lens of last year made me realise that we all just carry on with our lives and make the most of the year even though there may be sh*t happening on the periphery. 2017 was off to a dodgy start but then with how everything panned out in the end life really kicked off into full motion and things are now moving along!

What makes me happy are these chickens! Who knew that I would end up being a chicken lady who absolutely adores the personalities of these little ladies. We visited them for Christmas day, and we had some kombucha scoby treats for them that they truly enjoyed. The stress these little ladies release is just the best, so when we move home, I am planning to have a small coop with a couple of ladies in the yard!

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Thankful for these Peaches as they have just rolled with the last 4 months of Mama working full time and juggling study fitting in family time when I can. This year is a plan for more of a work, study, life and dancing balance – hey if family time is stretched where we cannot get out of the house we have the Nintendo Switch and Just Dance 2018 to get us all up and about in the lounge room. Quality family time, after all, combining the love of the Nintendo Switch (purchased in Australia) who possessed my family with Zelda.

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We wrapped up the year with a fantastic spread of hummus and pita chips, kale chips, home cooked pizza (Ken Forkish’s dough), salsa and tortilla chips, vegetable lasagne and salad. For lunch, we enjoyed my hubby’s homemade bread, chips and these tasty little goat cheese mini quiches made with my fave dough from A Year of Pies. Missy rolled my dough and put it in muffin tins. I added the filling of goat cheese and leaves or zucchini and gouda, I have to remember for next time to grease and flour the muffin tins for an easier release of the quiche but all in all they looked so good on the table and were quite a treat. We made 32 and have a few left over for lunch this week at work, so that is perfect. Our NYE was a relaxed night with our friends from Oakland coming by after lunch and our neighbours and friends joining us later for pizza, it was a late afternoon and evening of fun dancing, gaming and chatting with old friends and new.

Heres to a year of good health, delicious food, family time, friend time and lots of dancing!

A long weekend of celebrations

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As my 12-year-old son really wanted a sleepover, we opted for a Friday of a long weekend so that would give us enough time to recouperate. As it turned out it was a big night for Risk and playing the Nintendo Switch. Here are the boys eating pizza and taking over their countries and working out their “world peace” strategies. This game of Risk went on for around 3 hours until there were enough “peaceful takeovers” of the countries they cared about.

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We took a break for cake time and this year as I do not have a great deal of free time I made a chocolate mint pound cake and iced it with melted chocolate with sprinkles which tasted a treat as well!

Saturday was a huge celebration for our littlest neighbour who turned 1! My neighbours are right next door, and we have hardly seen each other as their little one was born with congenital Glioblastoma which is a Stage 4 brain tumour and they have spent most of the last year in the hospital with their little one. I was so happy to have been invited to their celebration as I have hardly seen them and their little one. It has been such an arduous journey for my neighbours to go through as it was so worrying, but it was such a beautiful experience to be spending time with them over the weekend and celebrating their little girls birthday.

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The theme for the party was ‘Super Girl’ as that was the costume for Halloween as well as being super for getting through such a stressful time. I love the superhero theme as it was so appropriate for what their little girl has been through – she is smiling, happy and super social just like her wonderful parents.

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And what has been happening in the classrooms of late – I have been volunteering Thursday mornings for Arts Focus, and we are in our 4th week this week. Last week we did fleece pillows, and I found one of the students embellishing hers with plenty of bows. I love it when the kids go that extra step and get creative with their pieces.

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And in the 2nd-grade classroom, one of the students has been working on pattern sudoku with shapes, and I was working with them to finally come up with the solution to their puzzle. It required a lot of examination and looking over and over at the shapes until we had finally solved it! This is how I like to see math in the classroom, hands-on and engaging.

Time for some Pie

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The weekend was so relaxing, and I think that my body was just saying slow down after I went to visit my acupuncturist for a Seasonal Adjustment. My last treatment was in February, so it took a while for my body to just say OK now it is time to relax and stop! So I did and even took time out on the hammock in the sunshine – it felt so good to have a nap.

As the weekend was my hubby’s birthday weekend our weekend began at our friend’s place for Navratri Golu to see the collection of dolls (collected over 11 years since my friend’s daughter was born) reenacting various Hindi stories, watching kids perform and eating a delicious Indian feast. On Saturday we enjoyed pizza at the park with our neighbours and hung out and relaxed on the blanket while the kids were playing and Sunday I made this amazing raw vegan cheesecake (plus two quiches).

I made a vegan fresh mango and strawberry cheesecake to share on Friday night to take to my friend’s place and it disappeared in seconds! The second one I made for my hubby’s birthday cake was mango and passionfruit, was divine and took me to the tropics! I found this recipe and modified it the second time using my Vitamix to make it extra smooth. For the Friday night version, it was the one bowl food processor recipe as I was making it before work and had to get it in the freezer, quick sticks!!

Raw Mango Passionfruit Cheesecake
to fit one Pyrex Pie dish

Crust

1 cup almonds
8 medjool dates
1/2 cup dried coconut
1 tsp vanilla extract
pinch of salt

Filling

1 large mango
1 lime (plus lime zest)
1 cup raw cashews (soaked overnight, and drained)
1/2 cup coconut oil
1/2 cup agave (or maple syrup)
1/2 cup coconut manna
3 passionfruits for mixing
2 teaspoons vanilla extract

1 passionfruit for swirling through the mix

Instructions

1. Mix all the crust ingredients in a food processor for about 1 minute.
2. Place the crust mixture into a pie dish and flatten evenly with your hands.
3. In the Vitamix (a very smooth mix) or a food processor mix the mango, lime, cashews, coconut oil, agave, coconut manna, 3 x passionfruits and vanilla extract.
4. Swirl the passionfruit insides through the pie to see the black seeds everywhere.
5. Pour the filling into the pie dish and place in the freezer – freeze for at least 5 hours.
6. Remove cheesecake from the freezer and let sit at room temperature to cut into slices.

Enjoy!
This can keep in the freezer well-covered for a couple of weeks or just scoff the whole thing down which is what happened at the party on Friday night.

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Now back to work/school so I have been really enjoying working as a Teacher Assistant at Ventana School, and I love seeing the art around the place especially when it is kiddos painting chickens! These are artworks by the kindergarten kids, and I just love their colours in their observational drawing.

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So more math games and fun with the kids – this time Race to a Flat where the kids cut a strip of paper to record their numbers at each roll of the dice. The aim of the game was to get to 100 or more rolling the dice and adding to the solution each time. The kids were so excited that they wanted to make stip of paper longer and longer – I wish I learnt math this way back in the day. Perhaps I would have loved it like I do now after the course in my Education degree.

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More math resources for the classroom and another fun game I really like is Capture 5 using the 100s chart, and all you need is some objects to be the players, and these kiddos used glass pieces and ones to capture. Check out the video link for info how to play, but it is a super fun game to practice addition and subtraction. These kids were trying to play Capture 25 and were working as a team.

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This is another fun math game using simple things such as a paperclip for the spinner and whatever objects you can find for the players – you can use coins or coloured rocks whatever is small enough to fit in the squares. This cool game is Place Value Munch, and my co-teacher finds all sort of fun math games on the Teachers Pay Teachers website. The kids really enjoy this game and so did I when I was playing it with the kids in the math rotations. I have to say this is the best way to learn math playing games and having fun!

Back to another week of work and life – taking it much slower as the weather is warm again even though it was the first day of Autumn last Friday.

Time to celebrate Spring with Holi

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This pic is most likely after I had a second bucket of water poured all over me – obviously California is no longer in drought and we had a very wet Holi celebration at my friends house this year. The Holi colour was incredible so much neon and so much fun! We started with an amazing spread of food with a potluck of many delicacies. I found a delicious vegan rice paper roll recipe with a chickpea spread on the inside of the rolls with cabbage, carrots, tomato, avocado and mint yummo!

Here is where it all started where we are nice and dry and we are just getting started with the colour and the next second everyone was covering each other in Holi colour!

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The kids were in two minds about the festivities but in the end it looks like they had a grand old time with the water guns and all the colour. It was so good the sun was out though we did need a bit more heat after getting covered in water.

There were so many funny moments with the hose, water guns and buckets of water. According to my friend ‘Resistance is Futile’ when playing Holi and it was not very funny when I got drenched. The kids first got me by wetting my pants and then it was all over once I had a bucket or two poured down my back, brrrr. After the first bucket of water, it felt like I had jumped in a pool and then it was all over!

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It was so much fun and I cannot wait to do it again though I will have to wait until next year! This is a picture of the aftermath back at home with lots of colour all over me – such a great combination of colours and a splendid way to spend a Saturday afternoon with friends.

Celebrate, Good Times

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Look at this little Pomegranate thief, up high in the tree and grabbing the forbidden fruit of the pomegranate from a front garden up in the hills! It has been another one of those four-day weeks that went by in a flash but at least I managed to design a cocktail dress that I have always been dreaming about!

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Saturday we did take a family day out to Bark in the Park over at San Jose in the hot summer sun for some excellent dog-friendly activities. Hanging out with friends and meeting lots of dogs, what a lovely way to pass the day! I highly recommend this if you have never been before and have a love of animals. The entertainment will keep you going as there are lots of dog related shows to check out and all for free and you don’t even have to have a dog! The best thing is you get to meet lots of dogs and pat them – yay!

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Saturday I was invited to a party at my friend’s house for her daughter from London who will be getting married this Wednesday – Congrats Elly and Olly! I gave myself a project to design the cocktail dress of my dreams and it took most of my time last week but as I was inspired by the vintage fabric I found at an estate sale last week I continued with the flow. It was a lot of fun as I combined a bodice from a dress I love with a skirt from The Great British Sewing Bee book – creating a design in this way requires a lot of thinking and manipulating, still I went along with it and ta-dah finally I was happy with what I created. Also, it was a bring along a dessert to the party so I made my favorite Fig Tart with a Rosemary Cornmeal Crust from Epicurious. From my CSA box this week I received these beautiful candy stripe figs and they looked (and tasted) beautiful on the tart.

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The party was so much fun with an amazing array of food thanks to my friend’s daughter Rosie who is an events manager in London. The bar was the best with gin (& tonic) from a bespoke distillery down the road from Canary Wharf where Rosie lives and I enjoyed my first experience of a Pimms cup complete with fresh fruit, cucumber, and mint – an absolute delight. And as a special treat, we enjoyed this amazing ‘cheesecake’ made from Stilton, Pecorino, Goat Cheese and I think Humboldt Fog Blue cheese! What a dream complete with gorgeous figs and grapes. A piece of art in itself and very tasty at that 🙂

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As part of my segway of creating a cocktail dress this week I wanted to get a move on my inventory for the Textile Art Boutique coming up on October 22nd. So I made these sunglass pouches for your fly eye sunnies out of FabMo fabric. I have them in a regular glasses size also a wee bit bigger for the bigger Audrey Hepburn style fancy sunglasses.