Some good food and back to Skool

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The last week of the school was pretty low key and I managed to clean out some frozen vegetable scraps to make a delicious stock for a ramen. This was inspired by a vegan ramen recipe, though I have added egg for protein.

And it finally came to the class posting at our school! Over the summer builders were frantically working away to make the deadline for our new school campus. Over the years our school has been in portable classrooms but with the popularity of our school and funds put aside for the project, our million dollar district has built a new school building – in our schools 22nd year of operation. We enjoyed a dedication by the Superintendent of the school before taking a wander around the campus to visit the teeny tiny playground where the kids really wanted to play on the digger 😀

Over the weekend we enjoyed some kitten sitting with RJ! Our next door neighbours friends kitten. She was only 10 weeks old and very independent. I have to say kittens are the best – she was the biggest distraction away from my studies. We all had such a special time with her!

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The kids went back to school and the day finally happened after 11 weeks of holidays – yep nearly 3 months off school!! Crazy town after we came back from Australia as we had another 3 weeks to entertain ourselves. So with my study schedule, it was a bit difficult so by the end the kids were saying they were bored but boy did they get a lot of screen time on their latest obsession Roblox.

Whatever, it is back to school and I am so happy to get my time to myself again!! Now I am writing another essay on Education in the 21st century which I am really enjoying. What really helps having experienced Progressive Education at our school for the last 8 years. It is so inspiring that I get to write about PBL – Project Based Learning. This makes me so happy to get back into the Australian Education system. Oh, I just discovered that you now have to pass a test that looks at your personal attributes to become an educator, very interesting and so very important!

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For our first day back at school, it was a minimum day – whoo hoo! Yep after 11 weeks of holidaze, we went back for half a day, ridiculous – tell me why? So that free time allowed me 1 hour of reading for Uni. So for the rest of the day, we cleaned out a chicken coop and later when we came home I was cleaning out stuff to give away into the garage.

In the evening I made a Rainbow Kale Salad, here’s the recipe…

1 bunch of dino kale (massaged with olive oil and lemon and left for a couple of hours under a tea towel to marinate)
3 x grated carrots
1 x small zucchini
2 x grated raw beets
cherry tomatoes
mint leaves
hemp seeds
avocado

  1. Grab a big bowl and leave the kale to marinate.
  2. Grate all your veggies in a food processor, cut tomatoes and break off mint leaves and add to the bowl.
  3. Cover with hemp seeds.
  4. Slice up your avocado on top.
  5. Fill a smaller bowl with this salad, top with roasted potatoes and Beyond Meat Sausages and vegan mayo – delish!

 

 

Hunting high and low

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A week of peace and contemplation and I managed to clear my mind to enjoy some creative endeavours. I had a pile of my husband’s jeans ready to be repurposed into something fun, so I created these tote bags. The fabric is from a sample from Designer’s Republic in the UK I love the colours and so did a friend of mine in Melbourne and purchased it as a gift for her niece in New Zealand.

The first prototype was sold and take two is with the black and white print with an interesting vintage fabric lining and red details on one strap going across. I still have 4 to work, though – as I design them they take a life on their own.

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Cute kitten picture from swimming class with the kiddos this week – so much fun to have kittens by the pool!

The weekend was a good mix of relaxation and fun with the Mini Maker Faire on Sunday at History San Jose. I highly recommend this event as an alternative to Maker Faire. The location is perfect for the Makers and space is the perfect size for a family so you don’t feel so overwhelmed to keep your eyes on the kiddos and their activities constantly. There’s plenty of shady trees and cool redwoods to enjoy and the bonus is that with the activities all kids can create, take away and learn some new skills in the process.

At one of the tables was a hexagonal quilt making project which was very insightful to how a hexagonal quilt is put together. It is a cute little hand sewing project and the perfect project for an 8-year-old and for me too! Still, to make a quilt with so many hexagons it will take forever, we can always do a small portion as a detail for a skirt or something! As an introduction to hexagon quilt making, you can make a group of 7 and form a flower with your colours or patterns of choice.

As we were on our way out we had the chance to look at a letterpress and as my background is in printing – the commercial type of lithographic printing on a printing press, I was intrigued to see the traditional wood type letterpress in action. Missy had the chance to sweep the press across the print that had a coating of gold studio quality printing ink. This was such a treat to see!

This Mini Maker Faire was the 2nd annual and I hope to see more in the future as there are many vendors scattered throughout the activity tables and it is such a pleasant day out with the family as a lot of local museums from San Jose and surrounds are presenting projects and crafts such as the San Jose Museum of Quilts and Textiles, the Lace Museum and an Embroidery guild – yay for the inspiration.

Sunday we were hiking on a 2.5-mile hike through the dry oak woodland forest with our friends from Oakland. Hikes up in the hills are beautiful in the rainy season but as there has been zero rain for months the marsh is non-existent and the grasses are brown, this is  very normal for summer. The hike was on the San Andreas fault line and offers the opportunity to learn about the area’s geology. Unfortunately, the kids were on a mission to complete the hike and eat as soon as possible. Off one of the trails, we had the chance to hang out with a buddha hidden in a rock formation.

Still, the peace of hiking with no one else around was a pleasurable experience and the colors of the leaves are starting to change to their fall colours as you can see with this poison oak trio – leaves of three let them be! Soon with some luck the rains will come and make the grasses green again and the forests lush with moss, though it is hard to imagine with this last blast of summer this week.

The weekend starts here…

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Off to a chilly winter’s weekend with some fish and chips with friends by the beach for a sunny Saturday lunch by the water. The pier has been recently refurbished into this incredibly long structure with super strong pillars with plenty of space for fishing. We walked through to the end of the pier and we sent the kids racing back to land. The lunch was delicious with the $15 worth of chips to share with some very fresh crumbed coral trout but the one thing I wanted to try which knocked me for six was the potato scallop – it sure brought back some greasy hangover memories. I think this is the last one I will ever have in my lifetime. My body was later saying OK that is enough fried food for today, quick find the kombucha and get digesting!

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A part of our weekend mission to Shorncliff (named Shorn cliff describing the headland when viewed from Moreton Bay) we visited a fisherman and his boat the Sapphire who had caught some fresh tiger prawns out of the bay for $28 a kilogram. While we were there I wanted to see if he had any fish and from one of his many esky’s he pulled out chunks of Barramundi that were from his cousin in Far North Queensland. Our plan was to have a Christmas in June BBQ in Winter for the family. Certainly different cooking outside when the air is a bit cooler but hey it worked and we had an amazing feast of prawns on the BBQ and Barramundi called Baz cooked in a lemongrass, chilli marinade (recipe compliments of my sisters man, Rupert).

We enjoyed taking pictures of the family by the tree with it’s many LED lights – all 300 hundred of them strung from the tree and along the wall.

The Barramundi was paired with the very fresh prawns on the Barbie in a soy, lemongrass, ginger marinade (thanks to my sister!) – they were so tasty. To go with the fish and grilled prawns were a potato salad, fried rice and a green salad – what a feast! And a very special time with the family for Christmas in the middle of the year.

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Cheers to everyone with our feast of Queensland specialities with Christmas in the winter time down under.

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Our star of the show was Millie (Millicent) the cat, she is loved by everyone and is such a love bug. She purrs when you pick her up and is very tolerant of the kiddos – amazing! Apparently she is part rag doll cat so is super affectionate and very friendly. Oh how I miss my fur babies Mack and Bella back in California.

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We wanted to take a picture of the family together for ‘Christmas day’ though we are missing my husband and my sisters man (who took this pic) in the shot. Still I love this very creative shot on the back stairs as it was my last weekend in this lovely Air BnB and a perfect time to celebrate. Traveling back to Oz for Christmas is too expensive and way too hot!!

Santa even had a treat of banana bread left out for him with a big glass of milk a gift from the oldest kid of our bunch. And how can I forget the dessert we enjoyed with a cup of tea after lunch – the good ol’ lamington. The lamington is a sponge cake covered in chocolate and dipped in coconut. I did try to make them once a upon a time and they were quite tricky – actually I really should have checked out this video for the how to make lamingtons complete with an Australian bush sing-a-long.

 

A piece a Week – Halloween Treat Bags at the library workshop and Halloween Fun!

The lead up to Halloween was busy with preparing costumes and also a workshop at the Mountain View Public Library. I volunteer at the library presenting workshops to future sewers 🙂 It is part of a collaboration with FabMo who provide some of the materials and Friends of the Library and in this workshop we made Halloween Goodie Bags using sewing machines. Everyone was very excited about the class and below is one of my favorites with a cat on it! 
Sew Sew with FabMo at the library – once a month!
Cat treat bag nearly finished!
On Tuesday I presented the workshop to adults and on Thursday I was presenting our first week of Arts Focus at our school to the kids. I had a class 26 kids from Kinder to 5th Grade who were eager to start on their first project – a pin cushion for their sewing tool kit. After morning recess the kids who finished their first project were all set for making a Fleece Hat, Robin Hood style to applique and embellish to their hearts content. 
A little friend sewing away before he cut all his threads away – yikes! 
Then come Friday it was costume time on the dance floor for my aerobic dance class. We have such a good time together it is hard to believe we are exercising! So every Halloween we wear a costume that we can dance in! I found this beautiful vintage green dress from the 1960s so I could be a Go Go Dancer – the dress had a lovely little train on the back that flounced out for dancing so it was perfect. The dress was a bit too tight for dancing in the tummy so I added panels to the side which made it way more comfortable. The wig I bought online from Manic Panic – the place where I find my hair dye favorite – Vampire Red. 
Enjoying a cuddle from my favorite little kitten Bella
Don’t touch that hose in the garden – we are in a drought! 
Friday night and the festivities began with Trunk or Treat for the kiddos at school with friends. Families would decorate their trunk to hand out candy to the kids and they can hang with their buddies and have a good time. My little trick or treaters were Garfield and a lady from the Renaissance – the olden days. 
Garfield stripes – I cannot see the tail pinned to his pants, when you are 10 you make your own costume! 
Halloween was on Saturday so it was a perfect day for a party! Friends of ours had a Dungeons and Dragons game with the boys and then dinner and after a quick dinner the kids were so excited about Trick or Treating! There were a gang of over 10 kids in our group which was a lot of fun and the houses they went to enjoyed giving out treats to a group. It was a very hot day which is why I did not wear the wig and decided to change into a costume inspired by Effie from the Hunger Games. Maybe next year I will try and track down that amazing hair of hers!! 
The gang all ready to party – Missy hiding behind Dad!

Here is our gang of kids and parents including a wizard, a zombie, Indiana Jones, a Knight, Maleficient, a Fairy Godmother, a Vampire, Garfield, a Gangster, superhero, A dude from Steampunk, a Grim Reaper, a Cowgirl – also we had in the house a Badminton player and his shuttlecock!

Everyone before they departed

Cannot wait to go Trick or Treating! 

The fun part of trick or treating is what you can score in the treats and Missy was very excited about her vampire fangs that someone handed out to her in a handful of treats! Boo!! Halloween is my favorite time of the year!

Check out my fangs!

So what the heck have I been doing?

Here are some pictures of what’s been going on in the crazy month of May! From the kitten to the Maker Faire to Sequoia National Park – there are some of my favourite pictures of the month.

Bella on the fence

Bella our new addition to our family is getting bigger by the day – she is over 6 months old and still as cute as ever. She has lost all of the collars I have given her so far, which are 3 including her safety tag from the cat rescue place 😩 So here she is sporting a new neon pink and purple collar which she still has, yipee! She is such a wanderer that she needs to keep a collar on so people know she has a home.

Please be kind to the forest
Electric Giraffe
Tapigami

The above pictures are my favourites from the Maker Faire… I was volunteering to work at the FabMo booth this year and we did a couple of crafts with the kids and the adults. The craft I was working with was decoupage with tiles to make a collage and the other craft was an owl made out of a fabric sample on card – which was a lot of fun though I stabbed my finger with a staple and my owl was a bit bloody! Still we had a wonderful amount of people visit the booth when we crafting with the tile and people were so happy with what they made too 😀

Ash and I were very excited to see General Sherman
‘What the hell man’ we made it to the waterfall – yay!
Hug a sequoia today
The first time I had ever seen a marmot in my life – so cute!!

My what an amazing place Sequoia National Park is! We camped at the Lodgepole campground that we booked in January and it was just such a beautiful place to be, surrounded by masses of trees and wild animals – we even saw a bear on the road as we were travelling up the mountain to 6700 ft. The highlight was to see so many sequoia trees in the big trees grove where we hiked over 4 miles through the forest from the Giant Forest Museum to the General Sherman Tree. So many massive trees just so big that to capture them on camera is nearly impossible so you need to add people to get a sense of perspective of how giant these trees are. The General Sherman tree is the largest living thing on earth by volume and what a mob of people were there to visit it – I wonder if all the people visiting the tree support conservation efforts and make a difference to the environment, let us hope so! As you can see in the picture we had to take the shot with the ton of people in the background – my son and I were very excited indeed!! We did a family friendly hike the next day from our campground which was around 4 miles return to a waterfall high up in the sky, well it felt like that after we had hiked through the small rocks and under the massive boulders to get there. The reward was a big drink of water and some snacks while checking out the view. The kids did the hike without a problem and it was so easy to just take off from the campground and hike. What I loved best about Sequoia National Park was that you could hop a shuttle to the major stops and take a hike from there and catch the shuttle back to the campground, it makes life so much easier when you don’t have to drive from the campground to hike around the forest. Oh and the wild animals, apart from the bears the deer and the chipmunk, I loved seeing the yellow bellied Marmot – what a joy to see such a furry critter bounding about on the rocks.

Looking down into the valley between Sequoia National Park and Kings Canyon National Park