Journey to a new destination

Last week it was time to say farewell to my life as a teacher assistant and get back to my life as mama and student. I made little gifts for the 14 1st graders I worked with by getting them a ball of yarn each to do finger knitting over the summer. And for the kinder kids I made them a kumihimo loom with some extra thread to practice counting and to get crafty.


The staff at Ventana sent me off with this lovely book as a farewell gift, it was sad to say goodbye to all the lovely people who work there. This dinner is a beyond meat sausage with porcini mushrooms and fennel over a bed of brown rice noodles.


This amigurumi koala was made for our sitter and friend L who looked after the kids while I was working. I was so lucky to find her to take the kids to their after-school classes and the like and take care of my kids as if they were her own, they will really miss her too!


Saturday I was ready for some me time so I got on my bike and rode the trail on a cloudy morning. I found this little guy moving fast as ever on the trail.

Saturday we headed on over to Spring Lake Regional Park in Santa Rosa for a group camping with our school. It was a great weekend away and perfect timing to get away. We stopped off at Petaluma for some delicious pie for lunch both savory and sweet. For dinner it was a potluck and I made a mexican inspired black bean salad which disappeared quickly.

As the group site was booked up when we decided to go we stayed at this beautiful cabin for $98 a night (including reservation fees) – in the pics you can see the interior with a bunk bed and a double bed so it fit the 4 or us perfectly. Friends of ours joined in the fun and camped next door, so a total of 8 people can stay at this spot. There were super cool details, with solar lights on the balcony, a little broom cupboard, a table for your goods plus a seat for your bags so it was super spacious inside. We sat out on the balcony in the morning and enjoyed a mug of oatmeal with mixed nuts and maple syrup watching the hawk hanging out in the tree.

Before we left we went on down to the lake for a swim as it was a hot day and met an evil swan guarding the canoes, kayaks and SUP boards. The kids enjoyed the cool water and if you were there all day you can hang out at the water park for $10.


We are now back in our regular routine of feeding the chickens and doing the chores each week, it was so good to see the little ladies out and about dust bathing in the sunshine.


Back to mama time and time in the kitchen I made this delicious crumble with coconut whipped cream and nuts. It feels so good to be free with my time and I am thankful for the time I had with my work but I really appreciated to be a master of my own time now.


Slow like a snail


Back to routine last week and man it flew past which was good as the week back to reality after a break is always a tough one. My little exercise routine is going great as I have been doing this for the last 2 months now – counting calories, exercising for 30 minutes every day with a rest day on Saturday – I will ride my bike or if I feel like people go to a yoga class. To be honest, I am peopled out by the weekend as a teacher you are on all day and with people all day so by the end of the day/week I just want to chill ideally solo! My strength / HIIT workouts have been amazing and every other day I walk or do a low-intensity workout and the exercise really helps with stress and feeling good for the week ahead. Admittedly, by 10pm it is bedtime after a big day.


The other big element in my life is studying for my education degree online from Swinburne University in Melbourne. I was busting through my last essay and I received my results and I managed to score a high distinction,  I had no idea I would actually get such a mark when I had crammed and written that paper in a week! I am now working on my second paper for the course focussing on the different philosophies of education such as Montessori, Reggio and Waldorf/Steiner. The research is fascinating so I am motoring along this week as we have consolidation week so time to hunker down and get some essay planning done.


Tonight I was inspired by an heirloom tomato to make a salad of grilled asparagus, cucumber, celery, fresh basil and quinoa with a dressing of balsamic vinegar, lemon and olive oil. Sitting on top of the salad is a very underrated protein addition tuna fish topped with mayo and capers, yummo this really packs an excellent protein feast with the quinoa and tuna.

As I am building lean muscle it has been very tricky for me to get enough protein in each day so Naked Pea protein drink has been a great saviour with 27g of protein per serving which is excellent for a vegetarian/pescaterian. Also, tempeh and seitan are good sources of protein and really I should be staying away from the vegetarian bacon but I am craving salt!


Here is my buddy Bella laying on top of a pillow my other little bud used to love (my boy Mackaroni RIP) – she is way more of a homebody now that she is alone. One day I will get another friend for her but until we leave the USA it is hard to justify the costs of shipping animals back to Australia. She does get a lot of love from all of us, even though she can be very aloof, though I think that is what we love cat lovers like – the independence of our feline friends!

Home sweet home


The big news that made me so happy last week was the approval of my hubby working remotely in Australia. Now with all the plans moving along it was a hard decision to up and leave a job but now with this in the pipeline and a presentation from our architect in Melbourne shortly I am getting excited to be back in Australia. This illustration was found at the park after I took the kids for a walk as I could not sit still after my hubby gave me the news. Day by day I am patiently waiting for the green light that says now start packing and selling everything it is time to go. But until then I am enjoying myself here and having fun carving out my future career in education.

I was still on a balanced nutrition diet last week had me caving and wanting extra flavour in my food with sriracha and miso mayo. Tacos have carbohydrates that I do not want to be eating in the evening, so I turned Taco Tuesday into a bowl minus the taco of salad, avocado salsa and beer battered fish. I know my diet of no bad stuff, but hey it fitted into my macro plan for the day! The bowl on the right is smoked salmon on a kale salad with miso mayo and spring onions. I am finding with eating fish is helping me reach my protein limit to build muscle, fingers crossed I am doing this thing right! I love food too much to eat bland food all the time…


At Ventana School where I work we made some pipe cleaner dolls for the dollhouse the kids built, and here they are all ready to be sold at the auction.

Speaking of the auction my hubby and I had a lovely night out on Saturday night at the adults-only event with cocktails, wine and a delicious catered dinner by Opa! It was a game theme, so my outfit was my own interpretation of a Candy Land princess :D. It was a bit wacky but anyway it gave me the opportunity to wear the lovely raw silk vintage beaded jacket (from my fave vintage store in Mountain View, which is now gone!) with a dress I made out of FabMo silk pieces.

The quilt that is pictured was created with help by the 1st-grade class I help teach. A grandma of the students (who is a star quilter) designed and made the quilt, and it is incredible. It was won by the parents of the class and will be shared by the parents to travel with this cohort of children at the school. It is an absolute treasure and captures the spirit of the community at the school.

My daughter came with me to work today, and we had a fun time in the classroom together. She was a bit tired by the end of the day, so she did some reading when I was working with the kindergarten kids. She had a fun time with the 1st grade and enjoyed the tinkering with the kids at lunchtime and ate and played with them all which was so good!

After work, we went to visit the lovely ladies AKA the chickens at the ranch, and they have a new addition an Easter Egger whom we call chicken cheeks which is just beautiful and tiny. Apparently, these ladies lay different coloured eggs which are how they get their name. I cannot wait until she starts laying. I was so happy to spend time with the chickens where at one point I turned around, and the whole flock of standard hens had followed me out into the grass, I am so looking forward to having chickens of our own one day!! At the coop we now have 13 bantams and 10 standard chickens so that is quite a flock and they are all very entertaining, I am sure they remember the people they interact with and most especially whoever gives them the best treats like strawberry tops and kombucha!

String hopper Pilau with Ginger Lime Dressing

Today we had a potluck picnic of Indian families down at the park and I had a plan to make roti and sambol as it is an easy travel and easy share dish but my house was out of flour as we have been having amazing bread made by my hubby this week from the book Flour, Water, Salt, Yeast.

So I spied a packet of String Hoppers sent to me from my uncle in Australia and thought its a lovely day for a pilau with raw veggies mixed in and for the Indian inspiration add some flavours to match.

String Hopper (Rice Noodle) Pilau with Ginger Lime Dressing

String Hopper Pilau with Ginger Lime Dressing


1 packet String Hoppers  (available at Indian stores) 
or Rice Noodles (in the International aisle of Whole  Foods)
1 carrot grated
3 x spring onions sliced
As many tomatoes as you like
Lebanese Cucumber 
1 cup Raw cashews
Sesame oil 
Juice of 1 lime
Juice of 1 lemon
Pickled Ginger
Fresh Ginger (using the Microplane) to taste
Salt and Pepper to taste
1. Cook string hoppers using the directions on the packet – I poured boiled water on the dried noodles and it took 5 minutes. 
2. While the string hoppers are cooking grate your carrot in the food processor, slice your green onions, tomatoes, cucumber, coriander and avocado. 
3. Take the raw cashews and pulse them in the food processor.
4. Make the dressing by mixing the sesame oil, lemon and lime juice, pickled ginger and grate over some fresh ginger to taste. 
5. Get your salad bowl place the green onions, tomatoes, cucumber, coriander, cashews add the string hoppers and mix everything through.  
6. Dress your noodles with the ginger lime dressing and top with sliced avocado.
A super easy potluck meal and of so fresh and good for you! 

52 weeks Project – Sri Lankan Cookbook – Lentil Feta Rolls – an easy Friday night dinner

So let me start my Sri Lankan cooking project fell off the wagon – still I love to cook every day and I enjoy experimenting so here is a recipe that was inspired by the Persian bakery we went to a few weeks ago. This is not Sri Lankan though I did eat a lot of lentils when my mum cooked us dinner and it was purripu – dahl with rice and a curry. School had started and we were getting back into the swing of things and after a play in the park on a Friday night I needed to whip up something easy for dinner. It was inspired after this recipe from – one of my favorite recipe sites. 
An Easy Friday Vegetarian DinnerLentil, Eggplant and Ricotta Wraps 
1 eggplant
Olive oil to brush 
Kosher Salt and Freshly Ground Pepper
1 cup of french lentils (cooked)
Olive Oil 
Small Red Onion 
Balsamic Vinegar
Salt & Pepper to taste
A bunch of mint leaves (to taste – I love mint so the more the better)
200g ricotta, crumbled
Flat Bread to use as wraps or any wraps will work in this recipe
1. Prepare Eggplant by roasting slices in a 200 degree C (440 F) oven for 20 minutes.
2. While eggplant is roasting cut up onion and place in skillet with olive oil when onion is browned add the garlic and balsamic vinegar to taste. Cook on a low heat as the onions should get caramelized and nice and soft. Add salt and pepper. Take off heat and cool in a bowl. 
3. Get your ingredients ready to place on your wraps by chopping up the mint, tomatoes and avocado. Have the ricotta at the ready to crumble on the base of the wrap. 
4. Take out the eggplant turn off the oven and let cool while warming the bread – this may not be necessary as the ingredients are at room temperature. 
5. Take the wrap – place ricotta on the base near the center add the lentils, mint, tomatoes and avocado and top with the caramelized onion. Roll your wrap and eat straight away – though leftovers are very good when heated in a sandwich press. 
What a treat these can be jazzed up in so many ways – maybe a miso mayo??