New chapters = New Beginnings

 

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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!

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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!

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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.

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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!

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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.

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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.

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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.

Friends, Food and Family

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A whole week of planning with the kids as my third teaching period for University commenced. To start the week off, I said to the kid’s let’s visit my friend who manages a book store to stock up on your fave author David Walliams. The USA does not get his book releases as much as Australia. So we did that and went to the cinema on cheapo Monday at the Nova to see Chicken People. We loved it as we are all a bunch of chicken lovers and enjoyed the quirkiness of the chicken obsessed at a chicken show in Ohio and Nashville!

I had to balance some study time in with catching up with friends and their kids for the school holidays. There is nothing like art time and then playtime for the kids and wine by the Yarra River.

I started two units, so I had to devote some time to carving into the work for this week, so I spent a morning in and took the kids shopping in the city and on the way back we found a park to play in complete with a flying fox.

The big day last week was quite random as I wanted to check out the National Trust House property of the Rippon Lea Estate as it is Aunt Prudence’s house from the Ms Fishers Murder Mysteries series that I love so much! The bonus of visiting Rippon Lea Estate is there was a fashion exhibit Night Life focusing on clothing on the 1920s-30s!!

Oh my,  I had such a fun time with my friend checking out the clothing and accessories worn around Melbourne in the high times of partying and living it up in this fabulous city. I loved this era in fashion especially with the bias cut dresses and the beaded dress silhouette including the accessories!

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On our way back to the train station I found this very famous restaurant Attica in the streets of Ripponlea. I had only seen this on a show on Netflix and wondered where it was in Melbourne – the chef is very innovative and forages for a lot of bush food in the dishes and had me glued to the television when I watched it, and it did make me yearn to come back home.

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Oh and the dramas of public transport – we made it to North Melbourne, and one of the kids wanted to get off the train to go to the toilet, so we did with only two stops to our destination. Next train disappeared off the schedule, and the next thing over the loud speaker was we have problems with the train this evening we do not know when they will be running again, now this was 4 pm on a Thursday night – peak hour rush just on the horizon. So what happens next was this disjointed plan to get back to our place via the tram with everyone else leaving the city sardine packed into them as they travelled by. It was a difficult choice to make especially with having the kids with me, so we just walked to the 57 tram near the Victoria market and waited… and waited… it was two and a half hours later, and we were finally home. My phone was dead we got back to the house and plugged in to see what was happening with my dinner plans. So, of course, everyone else was in the same situation, so we just stayed in had a bitch session about how crap it was and had some pizza and wine and catch up such a way to end a Thirsty Thursday!

FriYay and I spent most of the day studying except for lunchtime when I met a friend for lunch in the city, and we went out to Lygon Street for dinner in the evening with my sister in law, her hubby and the cousins. The kids had already had fun though exhausting time with their cousins playing all day, so we had pizza and gelato and headed on home.

Another friend catch up on Saturday with a very old friend of mine from way back when and we went out for Laksa to a favourite haunt of ours from back in the day, the Laksa King and it still tastes amazing! After lunch, we wandered around the hood to check out the million dollar houses and matching fancy cars.

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It was back to school for the kiddos this week in Melbourne, so we had our goodbyes to the cousins and the animals at their house. The menagerie of cats, chickens and dogs was enjoyed by everyone. I will miss my friends and family, but I know I will be returning real soon and knowing this does not make leaving Australia to feel all that bad.

A week of Melbourne Art Immersion

Farewell to the tropics and Hello Melbourne! It is so wonderful to be immersed in the beauty of this city, and I honestly feel like I am home when I am here as this is where my life truly began in my mid-twenties. Studying at RMIT and working as a Graphic Artist then meeting my soul partner and having our baby – who is now 11! So many amazing memories that resonate with life in another world. Now only to get back home that is in Melbourne and settled again!

To start off the holidays we met the cousins at the Bug Lab: Little Bugs, Super Powers special exhibit designed by Weta Workshop in New Zealand as a travelling exhibit from NZ. The installations are so lifelike, and the bugs were huge and gave the visitors insight into the amazing world of bugs and even spiders! I really loved it though the kids really zipped through the exhibit we wanted repeat viewings of the zoetrope dragonfly installation where the idea was that saw what it was like to fly like a dragonfly and it was just spectacular.

I met a friend with her daughter at the NGV International Kids area to do free craft activities, and it was perfect for all of our kid’s ages 7 to 11. They could craft away while we caught up with news and happenings in life.

That afternoon I found some yarn bombed trees in Federation Square and knew this is where I belong – the yarn is keeping the trees warm over the winter! I took the kids to see Kedi finally at ACMI, and we just loved it, I would love to see it again just to see all those cats closeup and listen to their fascinating stories.

Friday was a big day, and we went to the zoo with our family – an incredible photo exhibit called Photo Ark was on display. The photographer Joel Sartore, a National Geographic photographer, has documented 6,531 species in human care. I just loved these images so much, a book is available as well which has many beautiful animal personalities captured. I was in love with the sloth pic!

I really enjoyed the enclosures at the zoo, and there were many opportunities to take pics of these animals my favourite being the lemurs as you could walk around with lemurs in their space staying a metre away from them. Missy’s favourite was the butterfly house where I felt home among the tropics. We stayed all afternoon until the meerkats showed us how cold it was and it was time to go home.

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Saturday I met a good friend and her kids for tea, and we wandered down to the local cafe for a coffee and smashed avo on toast – now that is the business! It makes me so happy to catch up with my friends here 😀

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In the evening we were having a farewell dinner with my mother in law before they drove back to Adelaide – we are getting our cat fixes by hanging out at my sister in laws place and loving their new kitten Izzy!

Sunday was another incredible day of eating Melbourne style with good friends and fantastic food – we went to Maha for a 4 course Sunday session lunch for 2 hours of eating the most incredible food! To me, it is so inspirational the way this restaurant redefines middle eastern flavours, my absolute favourite cuisine. The restaurant had a beautiful ambience with music and comfortable chairs to enjoy a long lunch of divine delicacies. A true Melbourne experience that I would love to do again with everything cooked to perfection and no problem with the Lacto-Ovo pescatarian that I am.

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After lunch I caught up with friends from Choice Hotels International where we met and enjoyed our time together as a Marketing team, it feels so long ago and so much has happened in our lives and lovely to see my work friends again and reminisce on the fun times we had.

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We just happened to be in the city for the Boho Luxe Market in Federation Square where I had to have a quick run through to see what was on offer and of course I was attracted to this vintage bus with vintage clothes, so cool! It is so good to be back in Melbourne with art everywhere.

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The kid’s really enjoyed ACMI (Australian Centre for the Moving Image) the place where my husband and I first met 12 years ago, so we had to capture a shot outside. I love Melbourne, and it is so good to be immersed in all these art experiences that will live with me for another year until I come home again!

Jammed pack family fun

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My final week in Queensland with my family was filled with so much action interspersed with food which I love! We began our relaxing weekend with my sister and her crew coming to stay with us at our Air BnB we enjoyed a Sri Lankan feast with lots of wine for dinner and the kids enjoyed their fidget spinner collection and enjoyed the challenges of timing them.

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We spent Sunday at my parent’s place and the kids watched a movie after a lunch of tasty pastries from the bakery and took some fun photos in the garden.

Monday we went on a family trip with my uncle into the city to see the Marvel exhibit at the Gallery of Modern Art AKA GOMA – it was a super fun exhibit and displayed behind the scenes costumes and sets but the kids just zoomed through it! For lunch we went to this delicious gyoza place for a sushi burrito for me covered in wasabi pea powder, yummo! The kids loved their doughnuts and ice cream by Mr Fitz.

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Tuesday we enjoyed a family pub lunch for my aunts birthday celebrating with cake and balloons, scoring some super photos with balloons as props!

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Wednesday my sister found this great German guy who custom creates bikes as well as hires bikes to visitors on the peninsula for $25 per hour – Street Art Cycles come highly recommended and as it is an excellent bike riding destination, this was a perfect score for a day trip and we rode 20 kilometers in total for the day. The kids were really enjoying the 24″ frames and really took off riding on this dedicated pedestrian / cycleway parallel to the beach front! I rode this Breezer bike called Uptown designed by a mountain bike pioneer Joe Breeze whose history in biking began in Marin, San Francisco (so random and so fun).

We also found some local cats of the neighbourhood that were just like our dearly departed. Monty the cat across the road was just like Yeti the Himalayan Persian who belonged to my parents. And on our side of the street was an orange cat just like our lovely boy Mack who enjoyed pats from strangers.

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And my sisters beautiful black cat Millie gave us a bit of a scare when she disappeared for hours and we found her stuck behind the washing machine!

Towards the end of the week I realised I really had to get out and enjoy the sunny mornings and find some local wild life – I found some rainbow lorikeets on my morning walk / run having a party at a local mansion by the beach in this amazing tropical native garden. My friend Markus came to visit for lunch and we enjoyed another meal of fish and chips and went to find Gollums door on a tree by the beach. My last Sri Lankan meal of rice sticks, pan rolls, vadas with salad was enjoyed and it was such a treat!

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Friday came around and it was peoples day at the show so we went together with my nephew and enjoyed the pastel chickens, checking out sideshow alley with all the crazy clowns and toys and riding the ferris wheel yet again, I was a bit nervous of heights but I had to be brave as I was with Mr Ash and mum had to ‘make it work’.

Saturday we planned for our sausage sizzle and bought a variety of meat sausages from The Meat-ting Place – an organic butcher who could tell me where they sourced all their meat. The bonus was that they also had fish and I found Wild Barramundi from the Northern Territory which was perfect cooked in a foil packet with herbs and spices on the BBQ.

Sunday was our final “together” day where we went out for a day trip into BrisVegas to ride the free CityHopper ferry and eat some delicious Greek street food at Zeus Cafe in Southbank. We caught ferry down to the place where I moved to when I first left home and wandered the streets of New Farm before we went to New Farm Park with the kids. They loved it there and so did we, as we enjoyed the big old Jacarandas and the way the playground was built with a Strangler Fig!

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Before long it was my last morning walk on the beach where I said goodbye to the pelicans and our time in the peace and quiet of the Redcliffe Peninsula. I have to say it was an enjoyable couple of weeks with my family and catching up with friends!

A week of films and Lake Chabot

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Last week was Ski Week a week off school just for fun – for everyone in the Bay Area, this is your chance to go skiing with everyone else in the Bay Area, whoo hoo! Unfortunately, it was not so exciting for us last week as I had to study for a literacy and a math exam and both the kiddos were sick, boo! So towards the end of the week, the kids had gifted me their germs, and I was down, and so were my study plans!!

Most of the week it was raining so we started the week off with the Lego Batman movie which was a lot of fun, though not as good as the Lego movie. Tuesday we saw A Dog’s Purpose which was beautiful and made me cry throughout the whole film even though I knew what was going to happen! Any film with animals being harmed or dying is difficult for me, and I knew it was going to be a hard film to watch as the trailer made me cry. And as I was feeling pretty crappy by the end of the week I went to see La La Land instead of going to yoga class Saturday morning. I really enjoyed it as it resonates with you afterwards. I enjoyed the spectacular cinematography, music and dance routines, so much of it to love and the costume design of Emma Stone’s wardrobe was stunning and so yellow – my favourite colour.

 

So with such a lazy week of attempted study and sickness and movies, we really wanted to go outside in the sunshine on Sunday. I had a long-standing date with our friends from Oakland, and we had planned a rainy day activity to the Exploratorium, but we were not too keen to spend $100 plus for a day out. Lucky for us it was a sunny Sunday, and we were busily texting and calling Sunday morning to reschedule our plans to an outside activity. As some of the roads had been closed off due to the storms our first choice, Sunol was not accessible, and in the end, we stuck with some East Bay Parks to find a central location for both of us to drive to. We really enjoyed the hike around Lake Chabot Regional Park as it was an easy drive for us and there are many rolling green hills to wander around chatting and catching up on what has been going on in our lives.

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The kids even gained some energy being outside in the sunshine and enjoying the time with their long time friend from the East Bay, they were powered by jelly beans.

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Lots of Turkey Vultures were to be found flying around the lake and look at those green hills.

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We ended up doing a 3-mile hike – not a big hike for us, but we really enjoyed being outside in the sun and soaking up some Vitamin D.

We wandered through lots of oak woodland as we hopped off the main trail to go up into the hills above the main trail. The guys led us on some random trail for a bit of excitement, but hey it actually did lead us back to the main trail! I loved the shape of the big old oak trees up on the hills with lots of amazing green grass with thanks to the rain. The rain also filled up the lake above some of the banks to see the jetty and the seats nearby underwater. Lots of fishing opportunities to be had here with some quiet little fishing piers to check out along the way.

Thank goodness for blue skies and sunny Sundays, I loved the day out and felt so much better. As you can see the kids still enjoyed a workout after our little hike at the exercise area by the lake. This is a super special place to hang out for the day, and I am so happy that we were out and about with our friends enjoying the sunshine!

Giving Thanks!

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In these times of despair, it may be hard to focus on the positive. This time of year with Thanksgiving it is a time of giving thanks to the many aspects of your life or even your year to propel you towards 2017 full of positive vibes. Seriously, we as a group of people who care need to stand together in spite of all the barriers that we see ahead and believe that we can do this. I have even made a calendar of positive affirmations for each month to get us through the coming year ahead and I believe that if you focus on the positive good things will happen.

Of course, I give thanks to the amazing family of mine that consist of our unit of four with the 2 cats. It is grounding in my life to know that whatever happens we have each other living in peace together. So much turmoil around in my circle of friends means that the relationships you do have that work give you focus on cherishing your own relationships. And in the analogy of tending to a garden – give it lots love and attention and your garden will blossom.

We have some good friends here who are like family to me and we are lucky to have each other and I am thankful that we have known each other for over 10 years and have grown with our children who still love to spend the time with each other. We enjoy camping adventures together and hiking and of course eating so we will be spending thanksgiving together relaxing, playing games and catching up.

So there are many things that I give thanks for this year? The community seems to be up there for me with having the support of a group makes a heck of a difference in your day to day life. The school my daughter attends are my people. We are all on the same page about the involvement of education for our children and the future they will have with the approach of hands-on learning. Everyone works together to make it work. And we are there for each other, from my experience living here with no family you create your family from your community around you.

This is why I choose to give back to the community at the local library and teach sewing skills to a group of people who have come to the classes since they began last year. I am so happy that the program at the library we started last August has become really successful with wait lists for the programs as they fill up fast. We had 9 people at the infinity scarf program last Tuesday – the bonus is that we have 8 sewing machines now so there is less waiting around. Next month the program is making holiday decor out of felt with lots of hand sewing and experimentation with fabric. I am loving this opportunity to inspire people in the community and those who want to try something new and instilling the confidence in that they can make something and be creative.

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The opportunity to go home over the summer and spend time with family and friends has been an incredible experience for me. In a sense, it has been a literal “homecoming” for my life and where I want to be in the future. I am thankful for the family I have in Australia and how loving, caring and genuine they are – being so far away AND for so long it was hard to grasp and remember the love. But going home to be with my family was the best thing I have done for myself, my family and the future. The knowing that we can go back every year now until we leave will be something that I look forward to every year. I truly miss my family and it is really hard to be so far away but thank goodness for FaceTime we are just a phone call away which makes it so much easier.

Seeing our friends when we went home was a homecoming in a similar way – again our friends we have known for years and will be friends for as long as we live. We have had many experiences in our past together before kids and now most of our friends have kids we are like one big family together again living away from our families whether they are in another country or another state in Australia – it is still not that far away for them. The time we spent together is something that I will remember – as having close friends means that even though we spend time together when we meet up it feels just like yesterday when we saw each other. Thankful for having friendships like these means a lot to me.

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One final thing I am thankful for this year is the opportunity to study – thanks to a good friend of mine who planted the seed in my mind I decided to attempt a degree in education. And now I am on my third week of the course and it is intense and very exciting at the same time. It is incredible how inspiring a degree can be especially if it is something you do at a semi-professional level. Learning the background and studying online is another experience in my life that I feel has aligned at the right time and even though this is challenging with everything else in my life I do find the time to study! It will be a long journey ahead but oh so worth it for the future – education is something that everyone needs and it should be a necessity of the population, not a commodity (I will not open this kettle of fish here now – this has to be a positive post!)