Art and New Discoveries

As our class will be going on a field trip to the San Francisco Botanical Gardens next month our Atelierista (Art Specialist) bought in some cacti for the kids to practice their observational drawing. They used Indian ink and pastel, to apply the ink the kids used a variety of brushes, plastic forks and skewers.

A Problem of the Month in maths was this worksheet looking at the patterns in bowling pins and using repeating patterns to work out how many pins were set up. It is interesting how the kids approached this with their super cute drawings, most of them getting messier and messier at each line of the x pattern. More math resources for the classroom for working in small groups and coming together as a math congress to discuss their findings in the end.

After assembly this week the whole school all sang a song to the birds – yes this is the whole school including the teachers and the specialists. It was a cute little song I am sure the birds really enjoyed! We all danced in a circle around the labyrinth near the upper playground, it is such a wonderful place to work!

My discoveries this week were overnight oats and how good they are as a study snack! All I did was get this recipe from Oh She Glows Every Day by Angela Liddon, I store it in the fridge adding fresh fruit and coconut to the bowl for the healthiest snack ever.

Apple Pie Overnight Oats
(this is my slacker version adapted from the cookbook)

1 cup oats
1.5 cups cashew milk
1 tablespoon maple syrup
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon, to taste
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
Small pinch of fine sea salt
1 Fuji apple unpeeled – chopped up finely
2 tablespoons chia seeds
Ground Allspice
Ground Ginger

I just used a large mason jar put all the ingredients in there gave it a shake and left it for the morning and the next day and the day after, it keeps a few days in the fridge and is a great snack anytime!

The avocado with Siracha is sitting atop a super easy recipe for baked zucchini patties from the Vitamix cookbook I found at the library.

I love the library and one of the books I found there this week was this amazing Lebanese cookbook, and it made me so hungry just looking through it. If only I could get decent Lebanese food here like I do back home in Melbourne!! The good thing about working full-time is discovering shortcuts to eating well and the best place to find good recipes is at the local library, go Mountain View Public Library you are my best friend 😀

 

Myths and Legends

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What a lovely collection of books and placing Myths right next to the Orwell book 1984 is pretty funny as 1984 does not really feel like a myth anymore! Still, the legends are the books next door a bunch of Star Wars parody books – yes more humour is what we need. Now on to last week that went by in a flash! It was a night of teaching double drawstring bags at the library followed by my birthday then a night out to the Arts Focus exhibition, and then Thursday night it was PBL (Project Based Learning) night and Open house at school. Friday night I still had to polish up my science essay so I could submit it this week! Just too much – I think I need to stop and breathe, which is why I went to Yoga on Saturday!

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The double drawstring bag sewing workshop at the library was a hit with a full class of 12 students who were eager to get their bags completed. We have 1.5 hours in the community room – so it is over pretty quickly. A lucky few did get them done, but lucky the library has open hours for sewing over the weekend and during the weekend for the students to complete their bags. The prep for this workshop is just cutting the fabric to size, and lucky my friend gave me a box of fabric I could use for this class that was just perfect.

Myth – I do not like alcohol! I have not been drinking as I need a clear head to write essays and focus on my University work, but it was lovely to have just one cocktail and feel pretty good! A fact I do love food, feeling uninspired by the Bay Area offerings for food locally I opted for a ‘sustainable seafood’ restaurant called Pacific Catch that opened up in the local shopping centre. Ideally, I am wanting one of those fantastic Portland restaurants that serve alcohol and raw vegan, local, organic food, but alas that is not to happen here, it’s more about the beers and the burgers – boring! Anyway, I will be back home in Melbourne soon and the food there is the best. Still, I had a lovely feast at Pacific Catch with some appetisers starting with some Poke – absolutely delicious! The coconut shrimp – very moreish but not too good for someone who doesn’t eat fried food too often. My main was fish tacos served with black beans and creole fries, yummo! Though the fries had to be passed on to my hubby and the kids as they were too much fried goodness for me. Afterwards (as there were no real exciting dessert options at this restaurant) we wandered downtown Mountain View to my fave treat place – Alexanders Patisserie and had a lemon tart and some other incredible mascarpone based deliciousness! Such a lovely evening of eating with the family 😀

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My friend’s ceramics exhibit
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The beautiful cat quilt – the group work
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The dragon and fire quilt – the other group work

 

Wednesday was another night out with the Arts where I have a job of interviewing the kids for a newsletter article about the joys of the Arts Focus program. A program entirely run by parent volunteers who teach in the classroom for 12 weeks of the year – with an exhibition in between each one. A totally immersive hands-on experience with art that the kids absolutely adore. I am so happy to be a part of the team and teach the kids sewing. This program has inspired me to do my Degree in Teaching for when we return to Australia, though I have less than 4 years or so to completion. I am enjoying the classes, and it is quite exciting to use what I have experienced and bring it to my lessons. I am learning so much new information, and I love it. Now back to writing my World of Maths essay about ‘How Constructivism is the best way to teach math.’

Serendipity

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Happenstance – serendipity, all those wonderful unexplainable events that happen in your life that generally are good intentions. This is what happened with this skirt as I happened to take a break from essay writing this week to fix a pair of pants. When I am with my new sewing machine, it starts to take me on a bit a creative ride, and as I am just sitting next to it writing assessments at the moment, it was a great excuse to make something. So I went through my basket of unfinished objects and found the top of a pair of jeans that I was going to make into a bag. I love those bags, but unfortunately, even though they were such a novelty they made a great talking point at craft fairs, though no one was very keen to purchase one – live and learn on that one! Anyhow this skirt came to be via a pair of old jeans and an unfinished skirt I made for Missy when she was a baby?!? I like how it has turned out, but the problem with this is that it is a little big still it was the joy of making something that made me happy yesterday!

What other joy and happiness came to me this week? Tuesday I was teaching at the local library my usual monthly event started up for this year – we will be doing the last class in June and starting up again after the summer. This month is a Valentine craft, and we made felt heart pins from a bunch of buttons, trim and embroidery floss. The tutorial is here on this site if you would like to make one of your own. What the world needs now is love so it was a perfect craft to do and everyone was very creative with their hearts and most of the class of 14 made 2 each. Next month we will be making a clutch from repurposed 8″ squares of interior design fabric – gotta start writing the tutorial soon!

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I also was very lucky to be looking after my friend’s cat for the weekend this little black guy is such a love bug and really appreciated the pats and the company when his humans were away. Any excuse to be with animals for me at the moment, they are so loving!

And another wonderful random act of happenstance happened on Friday when I rewarded myself a trip downtown to Oren’s Hummus Shop for lunch with a friend who I hardly see anymore because she is studying too! I love the falafel there, and the hummus is so creamy and delicious. Afterwards, we were so full we went for a wander downtown and went to City Hall to check out this inspiring CSMA (Community School of Music and Art) Art Exhibit. The classes are taught by CSMA teachers in local schools including our school. The work from our 5th-grade class was artwork inspired by human rights and boy they were powerful! The art teacher created the watercolour with the V to discuss tenants rights here in our own city. The ‘Measure V’ bill for rent stabilisation, is still under contention (the latest news it is being challenged by landlord advocates!) FYI the rent here is already way above market rate, and still, they want more!! I have lost many friends who have moved out of the area because it is so expensive to live here yes close to $2,000 for a 650 square foot, 1 bedroom apartment per month – insane!

Sorry, I digress… anyway my friend, and I was really inspired by the artwork by the children at City Hall and how powerful art can be in the classroom for reflecting on what is going on in the world. My favourite piece is this white woven wall hanging with the many textures, I am a textile lover, that I might have to get my yarn and roving out and make one in colour! We will see as I have many other things to do in the meantime… including studying for my maths and literacy exam for my teaching degree!!

Pacific North West Festivities

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We decided at the last minute to apply for a house sit up in Washington State for the holidays – we submitted as a family and the owner of the house was happy for us to come up to the island and look after her 3 cats for 10 days. We had no idea where this island was and the logistics have been a bit tricky as we had to meet up on Saturday for a tour of the house and how to care for the cats. Everything happened so quickly and we managed to book our flights in time and book an Air BnB in Seattle for the night before to catch up with our friends for dinner. As we travelled to Whidbey Island at the northern boundary of Puget Sound on Saturday morning we saw some snow and as we travelled further north there was more snow and we drove onto the ferry and landed on the island to being snowed on! What an experience driving in snow in a small little hire car, thank goodness we made it to the house and were warm and toasty to watch the end of the snowfall from safely inside our house sit.

Last Tuesday was the final workshop at the library for the Sew Sew with FabMo and we made Christmas decorations with felt and FabMo fabric. It is a fun little hand sewing project with various levels of skills in sewing which I always love. We had beginners who made tried sewing for the first time to a European contingent who were very skilled with a needle and made their own creatures including a hedgehog. I highly recommend coming to check this out if you would like to make your own decorations for friends or family and want to start sewing with a small project.

Wednesday I had a lunch date with a friend of mine who has just started a job at Stanford. I promised we would get together for some art lunch dates while she is working there so it was the perfect time to head on down to see the Nick Cave sound suit exhibit. We had been to the De Young and that is where I saw my first Nick Cave sound suit and I had to ask my friend this isn’t Nick Cave from the Bad Seeds fame. Lucky she knew and put me in the right direction, since then I have been researching these wonderful sound suits and the choreography with the suits and I really love them and the stories behind each suit. I am totally drawn to them as they are so textile focused and that is my love.

What I really enjoyed is the detail of each suit – as you can see in these pics there are lots and lots of buttons sewn onto the fabric as are pieces of knitted fabric pieces with a little-stuffed toy in between. The brushed wire is amazing in real life.

As a family activity, this is wonderful with a felt wall so you can decorate the sound suits as well as a caravan out the front of the gallery to design your own sound suit – the interactivity for the kids would make it a great winter activity for the school holidays.

If you have already had lunch a wander down to the Arizona Cactus garden is a fun thing to do with an amazing collection of cactus and succulents. I just love succulents so I was in plant heaven checking this out – the light was overcast and perfect for photographs as there were no shadows. The parking is $1.25 for 30 minutes so I would recommend a couple of hours max and then finding somewhere to eat close by or even head on back home if you are a local.

While I was near the cactus garden there is a mausoleum for the Stanford family and right next to them a sculpture of the family with these icons beneath them on how they envisaged the university for their son who passed away at 15 years old from typhoid. The Stanford family then wanted to educate all the children of California, they had some grand plans for the time and their sense of education was pioneering. I really liked seeing crafts, science and art as part of their vision.

On Friday and we made our way to the airport to fly to Seattle – we stayed the night in an Air BnB and visited our friends who live close by for dinner. We had a tasty dinner of Thai food and we walked from their house to the downtown for ice cream?!? Yes, ice cream in winter – there are 3 ice cream shops within a block of our friend’s house. We went to this place called the Nutty Squirrel and I enjoyed an amazing combination of Olive oil and Clementine on a cold winters night. After ice cream we went to our friend’s neighbours house for a nice glass of red wine – I am loving the Pacific North West.

 

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Finding the coffee shop in the snow
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Finally found a latte to keep us warm
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Getting snowed on and eating snow flakes
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Beautiful blown glass baubles from the studio in Langley

 

Saturday we made our way up to the island with no idea that we were going to be travelling in the snow. As we headed up north on the I-5 the snow was coming down and by the time we made it to the ferry, there was a blanket of snow on the ground. We drove onto the ferry and sat in the car for the 30-minute ride and off we went on the island to find a coffee shop to enjoy a snack before we drove up to the house. The Useless Bay Coffee Shop in Langley was recommended to us and it was a real local hangout with excellent service and food. After our snack we made it out to the snowfall and had to drive a hire car in the snow – what a scary experience. The drive to the house had a few hills and with the power of the universe, we made it to the house with no chains on the tyres and the car riding a rollercoaster ride on the snow.

With a sigh or relief, we found the house with the driveway covered in snow – I had to quickly text the owner to let us know which garage to enter in as it would be so hard to move the car out in the snow. We had only met via email so to meet each other in person finally was so good. We toured the house and checked out where the kitties hide and here we are, enjoying a quiet, relaxing break away from everything.

There are 3 kitties to look after at this house with an older cat called Spike living in the house and he really loves brushing. He is used to us now and loves to get brushes whenever he comes out from his resting spot. The other two kitties live in a barn as professional rat catchers. They have their own little room with a heater and lots of cat toys and even a chair to hang out with them for pats. They are Artemis and Apollo and enjoy our visits to give them some snacks in their cat hangout room.

Today in 5-degree celsius weather I took a wander through the orchard to see if I could find any apples on the trees, there was just one with other little ones who are just hanging on. The owner of the house gave us some cider from these orchards and we had some mulling spices to make a delicious mulled cider and so our festive season began.

 

Something borrowed, something new

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I found this interesting info about camping in a book from my daughter’s classroom when I was waiting to go home from school. This is what we enjoyed for my husband’s birthday over the weekend. Friends from our school organized this trip to Memorial Park near Pescadero, in the summer and we thought what a lovely way to spend a birthday weekend under the redwoods! Yes, I can say camping is quite relaxing though the preparation and organizing for a night out in the woods can be quite demanding especially after a big week!

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A banana slug found by the creek where we were hanging out and relaxing after a big week. Hopefully, this guy found some tasty foliage and was kept out of harm’s way!

The week started out with my monthly program at the Mountain View Public Library with Sew Sew with FabMo. I am the FabMo representative who creates little take home projects working with FabMo fabric from interior designers and smaller textile design companies that would otherwise end up in the landfill. I had a class of 8 people who enjoyed making embroidered cuffs – a cuff is a bracelet with a snap to hold it together and we go through the process of sewing a front and back, sewing a snap and embellishing the fabric and then sewing the whole cuff together. I have a link to the tutorial on this blog if you want to try your hand at sewing one. Everyone is so happy when they leave with something that they made themselves and very thankful for the class, so it is a joy to volunteer to teach something that I really love.

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Another side project I am enjoying with my Italian friend Cristiana from Pebble and Fire is an Art Play every 2 weeks sharing our skills. We visit each other and work together, have lunch and finish a project. Our first project was a ceramic pinch pot that Cristiana helped me create – it is a geometric salt cellar. It was so fun to create and learn new skills in ceramics that I may have missed when I went to the adult education classes. Cristiana is super skilled at hand building I love her style, so it is such a treat.

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And this week we worked upstairs in my sewing room and Cristiana wanted to make a pillow case so I made her the pattern and we did some applique and made an envelope backed pillow cover. It looks just lovely on her couch and the little whale is made from denim and we embellished the heart from the red fabric we used on the back. It was so much fun to see my friend enjoy sewing as last time we went sewing together it was at an Etsy event in San Jose making lunch bags which was easy for me but not so for Cristiana. At least, this time when we worked together it was a bit more relaxing. I am looking forward to our next project together and it is such a great thing to do to learn something new and spend some time out of the usual.

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In between, I have also been preparing work for the FabMo Textile Art Boutique that I am working towards. Here is another denim tote I have made using some beautiful linen I found at FabMo. I also made completed the sunglass pouches I worked on last week and made 3 skirts from stretch fabric – whew that inventory is coming along nicely!

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Today I worked with the kids at school helping them choose colours for their cubby project where they are making an art installation using fabric I found at FabMo. They are staining the wood with a 1 part acrylic paint and 2 parts water where the wood absorbs the colour and creates a translucent effect with the wood grain. I love it and cannot wait to see the finished installation in the classroom.

A piece a week – Ceramics out of the Kiln

This week I finally made it an Open Studio Pottery Session for 4 hours. I figured this week is going to be super busy so why not take some time out and make some bowls. As I was there I found 5 of my bowls had come out of the kiln. I was experimenting with wax resist and the glaze that made it easy to find the bowls I had made though the look was OK and would be way better if I take it an extra step and work out how this whole process works 🙂 Still it was fun and the colours that came out were very interesting combinations and I love how the glazes react with each other too – a couple of my favorites are in the close up shots. 
A bunch of bowls working away in the kitchen
A favorite combination of colors
Another favorite though this is a matte and gloss glaze combo

A close up of the wax resist
Tuesday night it was Sew Sew with FabMo at the Mountain View Library and here is one of the attendees with her Infinity scarf. We had 12 people who came to the workshop and we could have used another 3 sewing machines as there was a bit of waiting around. Still it gave people time to discuss the steps to be organized once it was time for them to go on the machine. It was a pretty easy project that everyone enjoyed! 
Finished scarf out into the night

At the library some promo material – time for me to start the next months project!

Thursday it was Arts Focus with the kids at school and we made stuffed animals – here is a little one made with some beautiful stitches – I am looking forward to seeing how these animals turn out as the kids really love this project!

A little red elephant!

Friday was a night out at the museum and we went behind the Project Lab to peek at a small amount of the Academy’s gem collection – I love seeing gems in their raw form and these were presented beautifully. Hopefully they will have a show in the future!

Love the colours of these stones

Sunday was a family bike ride before heading over to the theater to see Annie in the afternoon – it was such a lovely morning for a ride and here we are at the end of the road looking over the water! We rode about 8 miles at a steady pace which accounts for some exercise 🙂

On the jetty!

I love my bike! 

Checking out the stinky shoreline!

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!

A piece a Week – Embroidered Cuffs for a workshop at the Library

As part of the Sew Sew with FabMo workshops at the Mountain View Library I am teaching little sewing projects so folks can experiment with the fabrics that FabMo has on offer. This month on September 29 I am presenting an embroidered cuff workshop using crafting thread, snaps and FabMo fabric – if you are interested register at the library here.
Embroidered cuff workshop at the Mountain View Library September 29 2015
It has been fun to experiment with these fabrics and see what works – I have prepped the strips of fabric ready to go and be transformed into a fun cuff for the Autumn weather. This week is a no go with our last blast of summer – with warm temperatures for the whole week! 
FabMo fabric cuff sample ideas for the workshop

Also this week my Vitamix has been in action creating some tasty concoctions with the fruit and veggies I have in the fridge! The green smoothie with Kale is one of my favorites with cucumber, kale, apple, pear and lemon juice was so refreshing and so good for you with the addition of chia seeds.

My new BFF the Vitamix!

I experimented with figs and raspberries to get this beautiful colored almond milk smoothie and with the addition of banana and mint the combination was divine.

Fig almond smoothie

A piece a Week – A tote bag sample for the Local Library Workshop

I am getting excited about teaching folks how to make a patchwork bag from 8″ squares from FabMo fabric samples. The Library Services Manager asked if I would like to host a workshop sometime at the library and this has been months in the making. Between busy schedules of myself, the library and FabMo we finally have set a date for June 25. It will be a creative collaboration presented by FabMo and the Mountain View Library and the totes will be free to take home to whoever wants to make one. The fun thing is that there are so many designs and patterns to choose from and every bag will be a one of a kind!

If you have ever wanted to try out sewing or would like to make a patchwork bag register at the library – flyers to be out soon… watch this space!!

Snacking tote made from 8″ pieces sunset, sky and grass side

Snacking tote made from 8″ pieces – pink & grey side

Lunchin’ tote made from 8″ pieces
Beach tote made from 12″ pieces

B side of the Beach tote made from 12″ pieces

Our kids craft project this week is pom poms – it was fine for the first one or two and Missy decided she wanted to make a snowman. I should have a picture of that guy but he got terribly squashed in my bag so here is our rainbow pom pom hanging happily at the front door.