What am I going to miss?

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These kiddos really enjoy our friendship with our friends who are have been our family over here. We have known each other since Ashwin was a baby and the kids met at a local music class – so we have known each other for over 11 years, which is most of the time we have been here. Coming here and not knowing anyone, it was so good to find my peeps, friends who understand you with so many things in common.

We have been having fun times together even when our friends moved to the East Bay, so every month or so we meet at Half Moon Bay and today we hung out at the beach and enjoyed Japanese for lunch. I will miss our good times together catching up and I felt so sad when I shared the news of us leaving today with our friends. Over the years we have had some epic camp trips together, all over California with so many excellent memories.

Our chickens are so sweet and we are going to have to give these ladies up for adoption at the 4H ranch come January. They just make me so happy with their little personalities. Hopefully, we can get some of our own when our house is done in Melbourne.

It really is a bittersweet decision to go back home and there are some friends that I will really miss so I will have the hope that our friends can come and visit us down under. We have met some beautiful people here and the feeling of this part of our life coming to an end is upsetting but it is opening up the next chapter of our lives back home in Australia. We have been very lucky to live here and create so many beautiful memories with some very special peeps! x

Oh and I feel this is what we should all watch, this Prince Ea is amazing – it really makes you think about all you are.

A piece a week – A very Happy Birthday to Me!

Last week after the fun of my daughters 8th birthday it was my birthday week beginning with a lovely crepe breakfast with green smoothie on a Monday morning prepared by my family! We went out the Kumino the night before for dinner and as it is my birthday I don’t do any cooking – just catch up on projects to do and relax – hey it is your day so you have to make the most of it! 
So it was time to make away and I wanted to make a special birthday dress – this is a favorite pattern of mine as it can be worn in winter with layers or on it’s own in the summer time. This fabric was found at FabMo and it reminds me of an African tribal fabric so I have added interesting accessories like my scarab beetle earrings and a necklace I made out of tiger’s eye and random beads I inherited. I went out with my friends for my birthday on Friday to a favorite restaurant of mine in Sunnyvale – DishDash, beautiful cocktails and the food is Mediterranean and delicious! So much vegetarian to choose from and fresh flatbread and innovative cocktails is always a winner in my book. 
Get ready to celebrate
It was such a busy week with the school’s open house, PBL and Art show on Wednesday and the Art Show Reception on Thursday night. That the time in between was minimal so I had to quickly cut the dress and work on it in the evenings when I felt I had the energy – completing it with hemming on Friday when I helped take the CSMA art show down at school – whew! Hardly any time to read but my hubby found this dreamy book called Cabin P*rn at the local library – time to set up our future residence in the forest, where is that yurt??
Checking out the Cabins – for our future retirement Air BnB
Celebrating with the Funfetti cake the family made me! 
Here I am with my cat boy – Mack

Just before hitting the restaurant for dinner – I was starving and we had to wait 30 mins to get in!
Oh and another Badass selfie – this one with some wisteria, it smells amazing!

 The weekend was rainy so we went on a bike ride with the Superintendent from our school district and our school principal. Both Dr Rudolph and Ms Westover love riding so it was perfect for them, though not so perfect with the weather. The sprinkles managed to get us wet slowly but surely still it was refreshing and not too cold for riding. We stopped to check out the egret nesting area near Google and enjoyed some chocolate and some snacks for the slow ride back with the kids pace. Riding on the dedicated bike lane was such a treat in itself and if only the city can add more to make cycling safer – I volunteer with Safe Mountain View and with some perseverance we can make it happen!

Riding along in the rain

Love this bike lane crossing at Shoreline

Sunday was adopt a chicken day with the 4H Rolling Hills Poultry Project. As we enjoy getting up early and out and about on the weekends we hit the freeway early and headed over to Half Moon Bay to do some tide pooling – by the time we got there the tide was coming in super fast. Still we found something to do, breathe in the fresh and and go searching for crabs. The day was overcast and you can see the fog in these pics still it wasn’t too cold so we could hang out and enjoy our beach time.

Looking for critters on their little island before the tide came in
Fishing with kelp

Finding baby crabs

We were lucky to find this guy – he quickly skittered away

I always like to take my camera out on the weekends to see what we can find and as the weather was overcast that can be a great opportunity to take some pictures without any shadow so it was an excellent opportunity to take close ups of what I found on the beach. We are at Pillar Point as we went there on a super low tide one year and it was so good. This time we had to make do with the still creatures washed ashore which still are beautiful.

Sea glass AKA a broken coke bottle in the sand, the shells trying to shoo it away

Beautiful seaweed growing on a rock

The colors of the seaweed and shells always are impressive

Sheltering from the winds – a ladybug on a rock

The kids enjoyed picking up the seaweed and exploring the rocks to look for elusive crabs. The snow boots did come in handy though by the end of this the tights and the boots my daughter wore were drenched from walking in the water! Examining the seaweed colors in and out of the water was fascinating for my daughter and then she found a mussel and wanted to open it, I said to her I think it will be happier in the water.

Fly and be free little seaweed

Walking out looking for little critters in small tide pools
Coming back after a wander

Finally after lunch of some local fish and fish tacos at the Princeton Seafood Company – super fresh fish and chips with local fish on the menu. They also had a fish market with super fresh fish ready to go home with you. The cool thing was seeing the boats bring in the fresh live Dungeness crab at $6 a pound – so many crabs going to peoples homes in bags fresh for their dinner.

We met the Poultry project kids at the Half Moon Feed and Fuel to choose our foster chick – Missy chose a Production Red chick that we will be looking after in a couple of weeks. Each child looks after the chicks for a week with all the supplies and the heat lamp to keep them warm – we are looking forward to our time with the chicks.

Chicks ready to be fostered

On our way home we stopped by at the Worlds Rare Plants who came and spoke to the 2nd grade class about their Venus Fly Trap habitat project. Right next door is Highway 92 Succulents – now that was a treat for a succulent collector like me!

Love the colors of this plant now it lives in our place – an Echeveria – gibbiflora

A display of sundews, venus fly traps and pitcher plants by the owner who used to be a landscape architect
Tonight I am teaching this class at the local library, we have 11 signups so it will be fun – I better go get myself prepared and start cutting some fabric. All in all it was a fun week – how do you celebrate with your special day – week – month?

A piece a Week – A birthday Dress and hiking action

For my birthday this weekend I wanted to make a dress to wear out to dinner with the ladies this week! I have a wonderful bunch of women from school who get together to go out and celebrate our birthdays with delicious food and cocktails – so I am looking forward to a feast this week. 
My sister sent me some fabric for my birthday that she found but this one, for the skirt in the dress, really caught my eye so I decided to make my fave dress pattern – this time with a black bodice instead of a grey wool. The detail of the fabric is like a painting and the fabric itself is a soft velvet and feels so good! 
My birthday dress!
Detail of the fabric – put a bird on it!

Eye Drama – Boo!!

This week was a bit of a bust with an appointment with an ophthalmologist to see if I had Keratoconus – my optometrist was checking in on my prescription that changes every year so with that in mind I went along to get a topographic scan of my eyeball. It is quite amazing to see the valleys and mountains of your eyeball – the ophthalmologist took one look at the scan and said to me, “oh you have Pellucid Marginal Degeneration, that explains the prescription changes.”
So I said to him, “What is it?”
It is the thinning of the cornea shaping into a beer belly after a while. So the next question was, “What is the solution to this?”
He said to me there is a procedure called Collagen Cross Linking that is available in most of the world except the USA where it still has to be FDA approved. Great, maybe I could get it done in Australia – nope $5000 for both eyes as it is considered cosmetic and here in the USA the prices vary anywhere from $3600 in Washington to $8000 in San Francisco for both eyes. As it turns out the procedure is relatively simple – Riboflavin (Vitamin B2) drops on the eyeball and a UV light to set the riboflavin in place – this sounded great, the current cornea I have will be in place for the rest of my life with no thinning. Human studies began in 2003 in Dresden, Germany and has been successful.  I still have to do more research to see what I am going to do…

This was a huge downer for me mid week, still I have more chats with my optometrist and ophthalmologist now to see how to go forward, but for now – I shall appreciate the beauty around me, our hike at Mc Nee Ranch State Park, North of Half Moon Bay.

Grey Whale Cove State Beach near the cliffs
Sunday we met up with our friends from Oakland and did a hike on the cliffs near the beach. This is one beautiful hike with the ocean on one side and the mountains and valleys as you hike inland. We started at the trailhead near the car park across the road from Grey Whale Cove State Beach and as we were there early around 10:30am parking was not a problem at all! Warning if you come late in the day parking is a nightmare and absolutely chaotic! We had an issue with a mountain goat driver not wanting to move out of the way who made 3 cars reverse out of the car park while cars were coming in – cray, cray times!!
A view from the top of the mountain
At the top of the hike – coming down!! 
Still the craziness of the car park was a small price to pay for such a beautiful day out. This time of year in the spring the wildflowers are abundant. The hike is out in the sunshine with hardly any cover so a hat is essential. It does get a little cool up top with the sea winds so a little long sleeves will be handy too. We wandered slowly with the kiddos around on the trail and then when we got to the top after a snack stop it was time to go down – yes down on a very sharp angle which is why my quads are still sore – so stairs are tricky at the moment! You can see my friend in the background of the pic above, though this part was not as steep as right at the top of the path!!!

Wildflower – yellow

Lovely leaves with this purple flower

The kids found this pine tree as a little hideout to climb and snack while we decided our plan of action – to hike down to Montara, maybe not?!? Or take it to the top and down again! We decided to go up and then come down the steep path and enjoy a sandwich at Gherkinsn – a sandwich shop at Montara.

Kids climbing tree

Looking down onto the path from the top

Playing on the edge!

After our lunch we went to check out the tide pools at Fitzgerald Marine Reserve. We found a lot of seals just chilling on the rocks!

Seals chillin by the surf

Getting wet by the water! 
We came home and the kids wanted to make cupcakes for Missy’s 7th birthday so I found this awesome tasty vanilla funfetti recipe at one of my favorite food blogs The Minimalist Baker. What fun cupcakes to make, super easy and check them out after they came out of the oven! 
My baking helper for the afternoon
Sprinkles melted through – yum! 
The idea for the cupcakes was to make these – Missy wanted to make the cupcakes herself so I helped with cutting up the decorations and here they are ready to be eaten! Happy Birthday to You Missy Moo 🙂
Cat Cupcakes with gum whiskers and nose and twizzlers for a mouth and candy eyes
Missys favorite cat cupcake! 

NaBloPoMo – Day 30 – Day out to Half Moon Bay

Today was a trip to take our new car for a spin so a friend suggested we head on over to Lemos farm to check out the pony rides and the farm. That was very cool hanging out with the ponies and riding the train through the ghost town of cut outs! The highlight of the farm for the kiddos was seeing the cats and the kittens – I think I should charge my kids $5 to pat the cats at home 🙂

Afterwards we went to Fitzgerald Marine Reserve and braved the cold for a look into the tide pools. We saw lots of seals and the highlight was an octopus that my friend saw with his first time out to the tide pools – the octopus even wandered out and it is all on video so that was very exciting for everyone! This is the last post of the month and I have to say it has been a very exciting month and now it is a countdown to the New Year!

Mama kitty cat and her kittens 

She’s got a ticket to ride and she don’t care! 

A trip to the beach G

We had a lovely day planned to go tide pooling with friends of our from the East Bay so Half Moon Bay turned out to be a great half way point for the both of our crews. We decided to eat first and then head on down to the cold beach for some tide pooling action! As it was a cold and winter type of day we found this amazing restaurant called Flavor at El Granada. It was one of the best meals I had enjoyed in the 5 years I’ve lived in California – locally sourced ingredients, food made with attention to detail and excellent staff. The freshest of ingredients and homemade pastry is what I thoroughly enjoy. As an added bonus the ice cream is also made in house – I was eyeing off the goat cheese and Pecan but I didn’t try it … maybe next time. Here is a picture of the vegetarian pot pie that my friend and I enjoyed with a spinach and pear salad.

Vegetarian pot pie and look at that green salad

Here is the bathroom which is beautifully designed – I just love the colours! And check out the tiles – now that is a bathroom worth visiting – decent looking bathrooms are few and far between compared to Melbourne. 

Bathroom tile and orange love
After our feast we went on down to Fitzgerald Marine Reserve where it was absolutely freezing and so windy – there was a bunch of Harbor Seals but no marine life in the tide pools due to the fresh water from the rain, according to the ranger. The ranger redirected us to the bluff and through the woods to the beach where we could get a better look see of the marine action. 
These trees are so big! 

It was quite spooky with the dull day and the cold in the air and the kiddos had a fun time chasing us through the trees. Missy Moo checking out the size of the trees.

Abalone shell

The lack of marine life was fine as it was a beautiful quiet beach, I still managed to capture some interesting shots of shells and moss as the over cast light was perfect. 

Crab hanging on for dear life

The ranger was telling us that there was a lot of wild waves over the last few days and as we were wandering the shore we found bits and pieces of kelp, crabs and seaweed. I found this lone crab claw probably hanging on for it’s life while it was being battered underneath the swell. It was well worth the day out to catch up with our friends and breathe some fresh air – aaaah…

Tidepooling at Pillar Point

Vibrant sea grass
Sea anemone – open in the shallow waters

One of the parents at my son’s school had a fantastic idea for the holidays and that is to go tidepooling near Half Moon Bay. It was lovely to be by the beach and looking for little critters in amongst the rocks and breathing the fresh sea air.

The gang walking on the sea grass
An orange sea star

The kids were having so much fun, though my oldest son was not too keen on stepping on the sea anemones – somehow that freaked him out so he got back to the shore earlier than planned. As for my daughter she was keen to explore some more and so we went right over to where the waves were breaking and that was just so special. There were sea stars in exposed amongst rocks and a guy who had caught an eel for his dinner, and for our dinner we ended the evening having fish and chips – for me corn cakes and chips (a vegetarian alternative). 

Banana slug wanting to go for a surf!

As we were walking back to the car we found 8 banana slugs in the bushes – I had never even seen a banana slug near the beach before so it was a strange site indeed! This pic above looks quite healthy and maybe even likes salty sand? We had found one that had crossed the path and was heading for the shore that was just like a slug covered in flour – who knows the slugs may enjoy a twilight dip? 

The evening sunset

As the sun set and the weather got cooler it was time to dash back to the warmth of the car and get to dinner. Here is the low tide at the contaminated beach side of Pillar Point which was very sketchy compared to the beautiful beach around the corner. 




A lovely day out to Fitzgerald Marine Reserve

The beauty in the tidepool – a sea anenome

The weekend that San Francisco predicted snow we discovered a low tide during the day so we had planned a day trip to Moss Beach, Half Moon Bay. What a beautiful chilly day it turned out to be with sunshine, blue sky and white fluffy clouds. The tide pools were a lot of fun with the kids and we had a lovely time watching the waves. This time of year there are a few Harbor Seals on the rocks enjoying the sunshine too.