Grateful for all we have

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My exercise and eating well regime have been going really well as my meal plans are simpler now with eating more salads and knowing how to balance it with protein and grains. Tonight’s¬†couscous salad of watercress, raw beets, grated carrots, radish, tomato and my new fave plant protein Beyond Meat “chicken” strips made from soy and pea protein topped with a miso chilli dressing so perfect for a meatless Monday. If I were to go vegan this is a perfect meal, one day I will get there! Still eating seasonal, local and organic adds so much variety to your diet and it is even better to get the vegetables direct from the farm.

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So I went out for Mothers Day celebrations on Saturday rather than Sunday as I am not a fan of crowds or people. I had a study break from my paper and went out for lunch to Terun on California Avenue in Palo Alto and afterwards, I went shoe shopping for my mothers day gift. Oh boy, what a treat to find such comfortable and beautifully made shoes, I saw these on a parent at the school I work at and said, “where do you find them” and she told me! These shoes are handmade in Israel and they are the most comfortable and light shoe to wear, I really had a hard choice choosing so I decided on the blue flats as I am looking for alternative shoes in my shoe collection to take over the Camper shoes that I have loved over the years. I get a feeling that from now on any spare $ I have will be spent on these Jafa shoes, they are the best! I mean the colours of the boots are stunning and that is what I have my eye on in the future ūüėÄ

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I enjoyed this vodka cocktail for lunch with beet gnocchi, eggplant balls, a Neapolitan style pizza with pear and gruyere plus a farro dish with calamari Рwhat an amazing feast!

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At work former students of 2nd grade built this portable see-saw at tinkering, it is super cool and I see the kids hang out at recess or during class time for some air time outside. It sways on a PVC pipe and a chunk of wood – superb design.

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This week after a week of being appreciated it was time to be grateful for the wonderful year I have had. At the end of last summer, I began a temporary substitute teacher assistant role which initially was going to be 6 months but carried on for the school year where I got to meet another two lively cohorts of children in Kinder and 1st. I am truly grateful for this opportunity of working alongside some incredible educators. Today I was notified they don’t have a role for me next year so I only have 19 days left in this role until Summer vacation. After that it is a holiday in Australia¬†to visit family and friends and then back here for one more year of student mama life and organising our move back home, it will surely be exciting!

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I usually go walking every week around the neighbourhood and it has been beautiful lately with all the spring flowers everywhere, I especially love the orange California poppies. This beauty is growing from a succulent and it is super tall and so pink it catches my eye each time I walk past РI managed to capture this in the evening light the other day, early morning would be best I think!

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Oh, and as I was cleaning out the classroom of library books to return I found this inspiring story and did a read aloud to the kinder kids. It is a story of Julia Butterfly Hill who lived in a redwood for over 2 years to see it preserved for all time. It was such an inspiring story inspired from the novel which I have to get my hands on sometime to ready over the summer I think! Which brings me to the Tarkine in Tasmania Рa place where I visited many moons ago with The Wilderness Society. Patagonia has made a film about giving this incredible forest sanctuary for all time World Heritage Protection. Heres to making that happen as I really would love to take my children there when we go home as it is such an experience for them to visit an ancient rainforest where you feel so small.

Slow like a snail

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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.

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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.

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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!

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Here is my buddy Bella laying on top of a pillow my other little bud used to love (my boy Mackaroni RIP) Рshe 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 Рthe independence of our feline friends!

We are Family

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On tour visiting my aunt’s place today we were looking through more photos including my wedding album from a mere 10 years ago. Thank goodness it is safe with my aunt as it may be in someones garage in Alabama if I did not keep it safe here in Australia. The story goes that when we moved to the USA our removal¬†company lost a massive box of our possessions¬†that may have ended up in the land of the lost! Trying to locate this box¬†was when I found out about American customer service – that is¬†customer service¬†minus the focus on service, boo!

To keep the kiddos entertained while we wandered¬†down memory lane my uncle took them to the beach to check out the park and the pelicans. Ash had his first taste of a meat pie for morning tea, which he really enjoyed down to the last flake of pastry. Meat pies full of flies ūüôā The kids were at the park across the way where Pelicans are huge in these parts of the world and very plentiful.

We went down to the local fish and chip shop to check out what was on offer so I tried the grilled Goldband Snapper with some crispy chips Рfish and chips here cannot be beat! That is one meal I will always enjoy though a walk is usually needed after scoffing down all the chips. Plenty of ibis came by to see if they could grab some stray food and the funniest thing happened to Missy when she had a chip in her hands above her head a cheeky little butcherbird grabbed the food from her hand and flew off Рsuch a fun experience!

At the fish and chip shop there is a fresh fish market straight from the trawler from up North Queensland Рthere were plenty of crabs and prawns and these special little fellas called the Moreton Bay Bug which have flesh like a lobster or crab. The picture on the right is of the New Zealand mussel and the colour of their shell was just stunning. I so wanted to feast on everything there.

Little shrimp and Large Ocean Occy (octopus) to snapper heads and fish a plenty gave me inspiration for a seafood BBQ feast – today I just settled for some fresh Australian Pacific Oysters to enjoy with the fish and chips. The funny thing is that when I was looking at the fish to buy here I had to be careful on where the origin was, I found a Barramundi that was from China. To me as a foodie who loves to dine on local foods it¬†was a bit of a shock to find this at a local fish monger. I imagine it is a supply and demand thing and if the people want Barramundi they¬†don’t care where it came from,¬†even if it was on a fish farm in China. I am happy to support the local fish companies here and tonight for dinner I had Tasmanian smoked salmon from the Huon River region – it is so worth that extra to support a company that has some¬†sustainability practices in action. ¬†I love Tasmania from the first time I visited it as a backpacker to the last time I visited as an environmental activist in¬†the Tarkine region with The Wilderness Society. It is a place that I will be wanting to visit again and take the kids to see the World Heritage forests in the future – most likely when it is warmer and lets hope those forests are still there.

Lucky for us after all that seafood we found an outdoor gym so the kids could use up more of their energy on the cross trainer and get some weight training. Such a great spot for this gym equipment by the beach as you are getting a nice sea breeze while you are working out.

We have been here for over a week now and another day has flown by with more eating, catching up and hanging out. One thing I have been enjoying are the colours of the sunset and these super fluffy cloud formations, maybe I am too busy to notice them back in Cali as the time of the day I am too busy. Being on holiday gives you time to stop and appreciate the beauty and sounds around you, it is great to be home.

A piece a Week – Getting back into the swing of things via Micro Greens!

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 ^..^

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 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 РI 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!

Lentil tacos with micro greens and salad