Family frolics

Back with my family in Redcliffe on Sunday as we took the train from the Sunshine Coast to the new train station at Kippa-Ring, it was very exciting and so picturesque with the pineapple fields and sugar cane. Very different from the slow Caltrain back in the valley. I have been eating a lot of fish and chips and my good food diet has gone out the window but hey I only visit here once a year and this food is so good!! The walk to the beach from the Air Bnb is only 15 minutes through the back streets leading to a beautiful boardwalk along the entire beachfront.

What I enjoy is visiting with my family when I am here – here is my aunty outside her place with us and the kids with their great aunt. Every time I go to my aunty’s place I check out her collection of retro housewares and she is happy to give them away, this time the glitter seahorse caught my eye!

The kids have been wanting to go for a swim at the lagoon by the beach so why not on a beautiful Queensland sunny winters day we took them out and enjoyed more chips and a delicious fava bean burger from the Suttons Beach Pavillion.  The playground was a lot of fun with a giant pink cage and the gran and grandad enjoyed spending time outdoors with the kids where they could see them in their element.

The weekend was a lot of fun starting with a big night Friday of big Australian wines, a Shiraz or two and a delicious dinner at home with the kids. Saturday we met some friends at a local handmade market and came back for a cuppa and biscuits at our Air BnB. The market was super cool with some wonderful local designers that I loved especially a woodworker who made these stools that fold and can sit together they were so functional and beautiful in design. I am on the lookout for furniture for our house in Melbourne but I will not know what we need until we build, my hubby and I are starting a Pinterest board of ideas for when the time comes. Oh and the added bonus of this market was the food trucks and they were both vegan, so I had a vegan sausage roll which was delicious – oh the food memories I am making on this trip. My sister’s man made a beautiful farewell lunch of potato rosti with poached egg and smoked salmon, sour cream and dill that I truly enjoyed! Until next time my friends.

And to wrap up our weekend we celebrated Christmas in July with the family which was so much fun and of course, I did not eat the roast but scored the grilled barramundi, chips and salad – oh those chips again! At least I know when I go back to California I will not be eating them as I do not like fries. I drank a couple of glasses of NZ Sauvignon Blanc and felt very happy but it was a sad afternoon as I said farewell to my sister, nephew and her cat Millie, until we meet again we love you all!

 

Surprise food encounters

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We did a side trip to Adelaide and the pics were on my phone and I downloaded all the action today, now I can document the eating adventure we had with our family. We hit the airport nice and early for our flight to Adelaide from Melbourne and it was cancelled so we had a nice long 4-hour wait at the airport, it sucks when we could have been sleeping or watching Teen Titans at our other Air Bnb.

Anyway after exhausting all the fun stuff at Tullamarine airport including a Metalicus 90% off sale – a sad sale as they will no longer exist! I also found Pressed Juices who had the most delicious selection of juice plus many vegan and vegetarian options so I was happy. We were flying Jetstar only to change to a Qantas flight so we scored some extra food on the plane which was great. In Adelaide, we stayed at an old fire station which could sleep 8 people but it worked out as we were close to our relatives. There are my new favourite boots by the “fire hose place”. We enjoyed meeting our relatives at a cafe by the beach but it was ice cold to be anywhere on the beach so we stayed inside and enjoyed a macchiato and hot chocolate.

Oh and the cold does make me super hungry so I found this wonderful vegetarian option of beet hummus with halloumi and rocket topped with balsamic, yummo at the Grange Jetty Cafe.

We only had a couple of fun days with Grandma Jane and Grandpa Lloyd and Callie so we enjoyed as many eating opportunities as we could by visiting Sarah’s Sisters, a sustainable cafe way before its time with many vegetarian options on the menu and wine in a sunlit space by the nursery with an alpaca and chickens. I was hanging out for a salad due to the amount of junk food I have been eating whilst travelling. Missy is wearing the beginnings of a Totoro amigurumi I made for my nephew.

On our final day in Adelaide, we went out to Marion to check out the gallery and enjoy some more food with a latte and cappuccino with some yummy food before we hit the airport again. Australians really know how to make a good coffee!

Oh and our day out to the Botanical Gardens and Sugar Republic where our lunch was captured at a 24 hour ramen place called Shujinko where I enjoyed a cold ramen on a cold Melbourne day. The rest of the family had the ramen and really enjoyed it, though they always compare it to Sha La La in Mountian View where they have been spoilt. I wanted to document the many food dates we had in Adelaide and Melbourne that I had not covered as yet, ta da done!!

 

School is almost over…

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I am counting down the days of my work as my kids are already on summer holidays as they finished for the next 11 weeks – yep 11 weeks holiday! And in just 19 days we will be spending over 4 of those weeks in Australia, I am getting excited!!! I will be finishing my work gig as it was a substitute position for the school year and next year I will be spending more time at my daughter’s school as it is her last year there and we will be moving back home to Australia, so it is going to be BIG!!

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Last week was the culmination of our Bee Play for the Kinder class where the kids made their wings out of a coat hanger, tulle and sewed the lines/veins with black yarn. We attached them to their body like a backpack with a crossover back with elastic and put felt around the elastic and the joined coathanger to make it smooth. It was quite a fun little project to work with the kids – they all enjoyed the sewing part! I would have to say the tricky part was stapling the tulle onto the wire coathangers which took up a fair amount of time after school! The kids dyed their white t-shirts with our art teacher and later painted black stripes on them.

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Here is the play on the chapel stage complete with a backdrop the kids painted – I was switching out the backdrop from the meadow to the hive and the sun was stuck on there when it stopped raining. It was a super fun production! There is a farmer in the hat and the beekeeper is somewhere on stage too.

 

I am enjoying the last few times I will be visiting the church at Ventana – it is just beautiful inside, the stained glass is spectacular.

The 1st-grade kids I work with were weaving with sticks to make these really cool art pieces with our super art teacher Jess. She has these really long yarn needles and the kids made a warp tension across the sticks and then weaved in some coloured yarn, I will have to try some of these over the summer holidays as I have yarn and we can go in search for some interesting sticks when we go for bike rides.

There was a lot of fun with yarn too with the Kinders and the kids played this game of throwing a yarn ball across the closing circle to make a star. Afterwards, they had to roll the yarn back up remembering who they had sent it too, tricky but it was super cool fun.

 

Thursday I went out with my friends for an early summer birthday to Amber India which was so good to catch up. We had some delicious cocktails and the dinner was tasty with okra and roti and many curries. We will catch up again after summer to share our summer adventure stories.

 

Summer is here on an off and I did an early Saturday ride and it was so beautiful and still, I captured Hangar 1 in reflection and saw some beautiful bunnies on the trail and here is my amazing dinner from Friday of okonomiyaki with fresh basil, tomatoes and salad – yummy!

I was so happy to see Saturday as it was time to get into my final draft of my last paper for University on Contemporary Perspectives of Learning and Development for Early Childhood. It was a reflection, an education philosophy with the idea of writing this for a potential employer about what educational approaches I am interested in. Of course, it is Reggio, PBL and Waldorf-Steiner – all hands on with a focus on community.

 

Finally, Saturday afternoon came, after a day of editing my paper I got out to the park to the ice cream social with the neighbourhood. The fire truck sprayed water on the crowd on a 33-degree day which was super cooling. While I was enjoying a nice vodka cocktail with my friends. The kids were getting painted by my friend Susan (who was also my ceramics teacher), she was kept super busy for her time there and Missy wanted a bobcat and it looks amazing.

Some good times are ahead this summer!!

 

You gotta have faith…

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Sometimes you have to have faith that the universe is unfolding as it should (I found this stone today at work, I put it into a plant where someone else would find it!). Sometimes your patience will collapse and you feel overwhelmed by what is going on especially when it has involved work, study, work, study and park then finally a cocktail!

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Observing nature on my bike rides have slowed me down in my routine of work, exercise, cook dinner, try and study and do it all over again the next day. This symbolism from nature has got me slow down and take notice (even though I am really enjoying riding fast uphill!)

My eating habits have included way more protein as I have been exercising more and the plan is to build more muscle – yes I can feel it in my legs but the arms are slowly getting there. The midsection needs more work but hey I love food too much so whatever! My new fave is Beyond Meat, it is a plant-based protein made from the latest vegan protein – peas. I found the fake chicken which has a very good texture and was perfect with some pesto and brown rice pasta. The burger I really enjoyed on top of rice with veggies and pickles. Other sources of protein have been poached eggs, now that is too easy to cook with veggies, salad and sauerkraut! And marinated tempeh in balsamic which was very tasty when grilled, that is in between some corn tortillas with a handful of cheese for a quesadilla with guac and salad. My body is feeling much better now that I am eating some grains again and I am so happy with how healthy I am feeling after eating clean for the last 2 and a half months.

Now with this eating/exercising routine, I am allowed a cheat day away from the calorie counting and eating grains, salad and protein. I went out with my friends for a birthday dinner Friday night and it was so good to try a new restaurant, Cucina Venti Italian food with local and seasonal ingredients. The salads were amazing, our table of mostly vegetarians enjoyed the flatbread, zucchini cake, salad and the saffron fish was absolutely delicious. The cocktails were perfect and to top it off the dessert was absolutely divine with tiramisu and a chocolate fondant cake plus a mango sorbet. It was certainly an excellent night out with the ladies eating tasty food. Thanks to AU for taking the pics of the food and sharing them, I am doing what I enjoy most about eating out and that is taking pics of my food – thanks for the memories!!

Oh, there is that snail again – telling me to slow down and take it easy! This week is teacher appreciation week and I have been collecting flowers for my daughter’s school as well as receiving flowers from our students today with flowers from their gardens. I am so thankful for all the families and what they do. It is wonderful to be recognised for the hard yards that go into every day. The kids really enjoy themselves and I love watching them grow over time! I am truly grateful that I have this opportunity to work at such a special school with such an active community.

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In between everything with my time out at the park I have been crocheting with yarn that I have found from old projects with small balls that I have kept over the years and adding yarn that I have recently acquired from FabMo that I could not resist because it was neon yellow!

The universe has a way of letting me know that I need to keep it together and carry on because as soon as I felt that little bit of doubt things fell apart around me, for example, the kids fell sick and took time out of school – lucky my husband could stay home and then boom, I was transported into my old life with taking the kids to their activities plus work, no thank you! It is funny only then I realised that this intense life is not so bad after all, at least it is busy and the time is flying by! We will be going home when the time is right there is no need to feel so upset and have to uproot right here right now. Signs became apparent that it is OK to feel this way and when our house is ready in Melbourne then it will be time to go. I am ready now to leave but there are good things that can unfold before your eyes like a good night out with friends, a peaceful bike ride, calm days, time to study, support from family, connections to your children and just pure and simple time together watching Australian movies. Going with the ebb and flow of life is all that matters really.

Farewell Melbourne, until we meet again!

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Our final week in Melbourne was a week of how much more delicious Melbourne food can we eat?

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Melbourne is a foodie city which is why I love it so much, it speaks my language – the language of food in many cuisines. Melbourne is an absolute delight to visit, and there are always many superb restaurants to discover! My sister told me about a place called Lankan Tucker in Brunswick – as one of my last lunches with my foodie friend Cath we went for a feed of pan rolls and stuffed roti, it was absolutely delightful. The day before we had visited my uncles take away Sri Lankan shop and had a pan roll and brought home many treats we had with dinner – the kids wanted more by the time we left, which is always good. Sri Lankan food is always an excellent find – these treats of pan rolls and stuffed roti are quite time-consuming, so it is a real score to find them. At Lankan Tucker, the toilet was the best with some sayings we used to hear all the time from our parents, these sayings were described as “Lankanisms”, an absolute classic! Indeed, we would love to go back for more next time we go to Melbourne, and we will be visiting Uncle Glens take away for an order of pan rolls from Curry and Chips.

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We always find well-made coffee in Melbourne that is just amazing but the kids even score with a beautiful hot chocolate as well – to me it is all about the ritual of coffee and tea, enjoying time over a cuppa. None of this takeout and go business, no thank you!

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On Sunday we celebrated our 11th wedding anniversary – it was a hot day, so off we went to downtown Mountain View for dinner of a $12 salad from sweetgreen – I really like their ethos towards food sustainability and their support of local food and agriculture. I felt like a salad and scored a salad a mighty big one at that, it was chilli hot which added to the salad and our first time there. It was OK, but I think it may have been better with pickles, everything is better with pickles. As steel was the element for our 11th anniversary, I said to my hubby hey we were in a steel aeroplane for a very long time I think that makes a great anniversary gift – a trip home to Australia! Even though I have been living here for nearly 11 years, Australia is where I feel I belong.

So I was very excited to come back and see the ladies at the ranch – I love the chickens, and the Bantams have grown so much, time for some selfies with the chicks!!

On Monday it was hug a chicken day, in our neck of the woods! I don’t think they were that excited to see us but we bought them some treats, so in the end, they were happy. The kids really spent so much time with them and gave them lots of hugs and attention. Now it is back to reality, and I actually start a full-time job in August as a Teacher Assistant, life is going to start to get real busy!!

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.

Feeling the love

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The week of thanksgiving just went by in at such a slow pace and it was so luxurious to stay up late and watch ‘Outlander’ and then sleep in on the rainy mornings – oh so divine! The week was full of essay writing for my first academic essay for my course and it was due on Monday plus I had a quiz for my other unit! It was great to hibernate and study which I am doing mostly these days – I don’t mind it at all. The Education course is fascinating and I am learning a lot each week, the content is so relevant to this day and age and I am quite excited about it all!

When we returned to school on Monday my daughter’s teacher had found a little baggie with this super cute stegosaurus button inside it (sewn on the coat above). It was distributed by the Humboldt Art Abandonment Project, such a treat to pass this onto my coat which needed a fun little button. It just had a note that said TAKE ME HOME PLEASE – YOU HAVE JUST BEEN BLESSED by Humboldt Art Abandonment Project. And yes I am so happy to join you in your quest to share art with the community, these peeps are speaking my language.

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As I was watching Outlander I have been inspired to knit again as there is plenty of knitwear to be worn in the Scottish Highlands! While I have been knitting I have been sharing the couch with my little Love cats!

The Friday after Thanksgiving we went hiking to Hidden Villa for #GreenFriday I would love #GreenEveryday! Still, it was an excellent opportunity to catch up with our friends and go for a low key wander in amongst the green. It was all wet from the rain and cool but still so lovely to be out and about at the farm enjoying the day. My friend and I are both studying Education at the moment so we shared our challenges and class experiences on our walk, it is a good thing to get together every so often and the kids loved checking out the creek.

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Which way to the chickens – there are plenty of chickens at Hidden Villa in Los Altos and running free everywhere, it was so good to be with them. So many breeds 🙂

 

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Here is the door to the villa – such a charming place to visit, it is open certain days of the week so you can check it out. The surrounding garden is just beautiful with lots of succulents – they are my favourite.

Thanksgiving we drove over to the East Bay to see our friends for the day it was a chilled out day with some delicious food. My friends hubby made the turkey with yummy vegetarian sides with a sweet potato recipe by his mum. The vegetarians, myself and my friend had all the sides with Quorn and mushroom gravy. I made this goat cheese butternut squash salad and vegan lime pies, a perfect addition to the table. The kids were announcing themselves as the United Kids of America with the sign they made as they heard the adults vent about the election results. As friends, it is important to share perspectives and we all feel the same so it was such a great feeling to talk about what the future holds. It looks like we will be having a lot of visitors back home in Australia in the future 🙂

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After our Thanksgiving feast and a few glasses of wine we went to check out the view from the top of the hill – here you can see the Bay Bridge, the Golden Gate is way down the back. It was great exercise up and down the hill in the cold and we headed back had some dessert played Dragonwood (a kids card game) that went on forever and headed on back home in the dark. It was a peaceful week full of well-needed rest, aaaah!

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.

So Long, Farewell, Auf Wiedersehen, Goodbye

Finally the time has come to say goodbye to our home of Australia! Over our time here we have enjoyed catching up with our family and friends in Queensland, Victoria and South Australia. We have made some new discoveries at places and eaten some incredible food. The time we have spent with our family and friends has been so special for all of us. It has been 8 weeks of travelling and being away from our two furbabies so it will be good to be back to our cats. Hopefully they will be happy to see us too!

The suburb where we have our house in Australia is full of multi cultural magic with Italian, Middle Eastern, Greek, Asian, Caucasian and more living together happily. This is what I enjoy about Melbourne overall with this incredible melting pot of cultures and I just love the food. Whatever takes your fancy you will be able to find it here. I have eaten so well here without having to worry about the ingredients and the vegetarian options are so creative. No plain ol’ vege burgers on these menus.

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As a final goodbye to my good friends here in Melbourne whom I have met through work, DJs and through classes we went out to happy hour at The Moat and enjoyed civilised cups of mulled wine. As we are all mamas to little kiddos it was an early night so we all enjoyed dinner at a Japanese restaurant where my hubby and I had our first date at Izakaya Chuji. I mentioned that we have to try the deep fried eggplant with miso so we enjoyed two servings between the 4 of us and a plate of nigiri. Such a wonderful night with my beautiful friends, hope to see you all again soon.

The second last catchup with friends in East St Kilda at Lava in Balaclava where they have some yummy juices and Missy enjoyed some pancakes. We wandered to our friends house afterwards to see their cats and their house renovations. Soon they left to visit their relatives and we had a mission out to St Kilda to check out Veg Out the community garden and of course, some chickens!

As we were tourists in our own city we checked out Luna Park! So many rides but the one we really wanted to check out as a family was the Scenic Railway the old style rollercoaster that has been there since 1912 and restored in 1999.

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I could not resist this pic and had to buy it for our wall to remind the kids of the terrifying or exciting time they had on the first time on a rollercoaster! Missy was so scared and she wanted to get off – I just screamed this is just like travelling the streets of San Francisco!!

After our thrilling roller coaster ride we took it easy down the beach and found this stunning black swan from the pier. The kids were hungry for afternoon tea and thank goodness the Acland Street Cake shop is still around. Missy enjoyed this gigantic meringue with hundred and thousands as a sweet treat.

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On our way to our final brunch and farewell to our family we wandered by lots of graffiti on the walls Ash and I both appreciate the street art so we were checking out some favorites for some pics. I wanted to take a pic with the Krish tag and made a T with my body instead of the K.

Our final brunch was with my sister in law and her family at this lovely vegetarian Italian restaurant just a walk away in Coburg called Little Deer Tracks. The food was so comforting and the breads homemade and so tasty with a sourdough starter that is 8 years old. My breakfast was the Dukkah Poached Eggs with feta, mushrooms, smashed avocado and marinated capsicum with chili oil, amazing! I could not get enough of the sourdough bread the kids did not want so I ate that too, it was a spelt sourdough and a tad lighter than whole wheat with such an earthy flavour.

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We had to finally get a picture of the cousins together so here they are in front of a mural by the cafe! Gotta catch ’em all!!

Goodbye Australia, until we meet again…