Going wild in nature

Well, my first week of the summer holidays was just a dream with catching up on so much stuff – namely sewing! It was so good to feel so free and not have any responsibilities of going to work or even study! I still need the calendar to get the kids to their chicken duties and the like but nothing dramatic. In exchange for credit card points, I got my hands on the Nikon Coolpix P900, this is a recommendation from a friend of mine in Queensland when we visited and I was blown away with the pictures of the kangaroos with their joeys.  This camera has the convenience of a point and shoot camera with a 24mm to 2000mm lens that is lightweight and perfect for travel. The pictures above are a few of the earlier shots in the day of a favourite subject of mine, birds – who knew!!

Here are my little monkeys in a paperbark tree striking their Anime poses – I love this camera to capture these shots when the kids are high up in a tree.

From afar I was checking out the Canada Geese taking their bath on the shore of the lake, the zoom in on the detail of the water over the feathers is spectacular. The best part of this is that we went out for a picnic by the lake for Fathers Day and I had the camera sitting in the basket of my bike as we were on the trail and whenever we found something to photograph we hopped off the trail to check it out – like these ducklings and a mama duck. The butterfly was a random find and I had no idea this little guy had broken wings until I looked at the image later.

The highlight for me for the day was going to see the baby egrets on Shorebird Way where Google has closed off the street for a few months so they can nest in peace high in the trees. I have always wanted to see these birds close up and now I can, it was so exciting! Again we just parked our bikes and hung out with the wildlife show, it felt like a David Attenborough episode in real life.

Afterwards, my son and I enjoyed time out in the big chair at the Google employee park next door with a couple of crocodiles and the bikes of many colours.

Today I was on a mission to take pictures of the ladies at McClellan Ranch as the kids cleaned out the chicken coop. I took a wander around the farm and found baby goats doing yoga on mama. The market pigs are getting ready for their time at the show, I asked Missy what she sees when she looks at the pigs and she said bacon! It is hard for me as a vegetarian but one day they can decide on their own whether they would like to keep on eating animals. Plus I had no idea how beautiful pidgeons could be until I was photographing them today. The quails in the coop are Flash and Steve, they just need a lady friend.

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It has been quite an eventful week after all with the new camera and getting out an about checking out what Mountain View and the surrounds has to offer. The best thing is getting on my bike and photographing whatever I find on the trail, I had been meaning to take my camera down the trail but my Canon camera has such a heavy lens but now I have no excuse for taking a crap picture with my phone camera of a rabbit on the trail. Next stop Australia and I will be taking some pictures of some flying foxes for my friend in O-town.

New Year, New Beginnings

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This is the year 2017 and time for all those resolutions and all that jazz that never manifest. Last year I was supposed to play my ukelele but did I even pick it up and learn one song – no! I love my ukelele and it is so good to own one and I do need to make time to play if only there were more hours in the day, then maybe?

Now it is back to reality and to regular routine… I have my two subjects a week for this teaching period plus 3 assignments to complete in the next 2 weeks so my time is very limited to socialising and the like. I still need to get out and exercise for my mind, so time on my yoga mat and dancing are priorities. I am really enjoying studying and it gives me a sense of purpose and a goal (at the end of a very long tunnel!) My first group assignment is going along well and it was not as hard as I perceived it to be in fact communicating across the world online with different timezones is so do-able, every day it is done in business which makes me wonder why do business folks still have to have face to face contact and jet around the world constantly? Anyway, that is not my worry, I have to get this blog post written and get on with my reading and weekly tasks for this week for my Education degree…

Our new years eve this year was just the four of us enjoying a lovely dinner of DIY pizza, cocktails using Sonoma organic ginger vodka, loganberry liqueur from Whidbey Island distillers and lemon shrub I made over the summer and tonic water – they went down a treat. A collaboration with my hubby where he made the meringue and I decorated the pavlova sans the cream (as I forgot) turned out to be quite the success. It went down a treat and we shared it with our neighbour who also is a fan of Australia – my good friend in Australia said to me the pavlova was super easy to make and she is a Kiwi and it turned out to be so, though he did spend a lot of time with the hand mixer (I hear the Kitchen Aid is the biz!!).

For New Years Day we mixed it up a bit this year and we abandoned the idea of brunching with friends and decided to start the year off with something we have not done in the 10 years we have lived in the Bay Area. Why we have not done this is a complete mystery but as it turned out the 1st day of the year was a perfectly, clear, sunny day to walk the Golden Gate Bridge! Every time we drive over it seems so surreal that we are living here – well we live in the suburbs of San Francisco so it is not like living in a city! Anyway, I will not complain, I do love the sunshine 🙂 To start the year off on something new was a bold move for us and we plan to do many more adventures like this in the time we have left in the United States. That is if my plan works to escape and head on back home!

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The views from the bridge are absolutely spectacular and on a day with zero fog and sunshine, it was just amazing to see what this city has to offer. I loved the views of the bridge walking under it and I loved to admire the incredible engineering. The cables viewed from the walking paths with their curves were to behold and the view of the city just wonderful – it is such a beautiful bridge and a glorious bay it is no wonder that people love living here!

Here is a rare image of my hubby and myself finally in front of the Golden Gate Bridge – we had some time to talk about our future while we were away on vacay. Time alone without children screaming the background or media to distract us – now we know where we both stand it is up to us to take life where we want to go. The future can always be scary so a bit of investigation in the job market and where we are both going in life has to be examined before any big decisions are made! The love locks we found on the Golden Gate are from lovers who have used a lock as a symbol of their love and then thrown away the key – what a sweet gesture, I thought it was for suicide victims whew thank goodness they were not as that would be a lot of unnecessary deaths of couples!

I really enjoyed the light of the day the other day with the bridge and wandering along being together as a family. This holiday has really brought us together and it is so good to see the kids in a relaxed mode and enjoying each others company which is why I captured this pic of the two of them chatting away, they are both growing up so fast! Oh and check out the tunnel we had to travel through to get to the bridge, it is quite the adventure going into a little Hobbit tunnel.

So to new beginnings and how to move along 2017 in such a positive light! I plan to do more photography, ride my bike often (see this ride across the bridge for a bit of a long day of riding!) and bake more – this is a clafoutis that I made from apple and berries and it was divine. It is such a simple recipe I found in Sunset magazine using my Vitamix and oh yes I need to use my blender to make smoothies and all that goodness. Really it is so important to stay positive and full of light in the coming year and be there to support each other – I don’t want to mention here why but I think most people know the doom that exists on the horizon.

A piece a Week – All day Summer Camp = Super productive sewing space! Oh and we saw Whales!!!!!!

Last week was a fantasy week and it was so worth having the kids in a full day camp, it really makes you realise how valuable time alone to create is! I had a list of many projects that I had to start or even complete. Now it does feel so good to have a sense of organisation of how I am going to attempt to stock my booth for the FabMo Textile Art Boutique in October. Time for experimentation when designing is a rare thing in the “mum’s world” of bite size time blocks so I have to just make what I know and make it well. So last week allowed me some time to play and experiment a bit more with the fabrics in my stash and ideas in my journal.

I came out with 6 tote bags in process and a quilted feather applique – it looks more like an arrow so I added it to a tote it it came out well. I also had a play around with the digital programs that I used as a designer back in the day so I made up some art prints and tees on Society 6 and Redbubble. The fun thing is that I downloaded a copy of Adobe Illustrator for a 30 day trial and it is so much fun to play with it rather than use it as a work tool. But for efficiency of time, the work shortcuts came in handy to create the pieces I wanted to make. I was introduced to Society 6 by a friend who had scored this really cool pillow on etsy so I thought there is time for some photography so I wanted make it happen with some of my pictures! I like having a presence in both the digital art world as well as the textile arts.

A bag I with my yarn cat design
Pieces to check out on Society 6

Still after I had completed the photography / graphic art project, it was time to move to the more tactile arts and my textile pieces. The quilting experiment was a quilted feather from a quilt design – I did see it on a skirt which looked very cool arranged vertically on the hem. Still with experimenting it is important to play to see how it will turn out. And as it did it was a huge feather. Still a couple of ideas came through that are in production this week! The pieces I did complete last week were a couple of bags quilting different colours together of the same fabric and the other was a floral fabric I found that needed to show off the flowers. Here are the finished pieces – I still have another 4 to complete, hopefully this week??

Beautiful big tulip with a gorgeous green background

The reverse of the bag with a different background

Super shiny disco design using strips of the same fabric
After the week was out we celebrated down the park with a lovely bottle of Malbec from Argentina – there has been some really good wine coming out of Argentina that we have scored and I even think I had some at our wedding. Ahh a good glass of wine on a cool summer evening with your friends on a picnic while the kids are playing, that was heavenly…

On Saturday we went whale watching to Moss Landing with Blue Ocean Whale Watch. How can I imagine that the first time we go whale watching we see whales feeding, playing and breaching just a short distance away from the harbor. We were in a 60 foot boat cruising along and there were the whales – so graceful and elegant. That tail of theirs gently curling through the surface of the water beneath. They are wonderful to watch and it is truly an experience that will live forever in my memory. After the whales had fed and were not showing off as much, we went over into the deep water and saw so many dolphins swimming and playing around with sea lions. It was so special to see dolphins in their natural environment happily playing with the boat and enjoying the interaction with the people – they are such happy creatures. We saw such an abundance of sea creatures from the sea otter and sea lion in the harbor to the whales and then the dolphins. The ocean really is a mysterious place that we have to respect and I think experiencing how fragile the ocean can be with over fishing and pollution. This tour made me realise that we really need to respect the beings that live in it and do whatever we can to preserve this very special place. I made this video of the footage I took that day – I did not take my camera as the operator takes amazing pics and sells them on her site, easy just go for a boat ride and watch the whales!

One of Kate’s amazing pictures on her website – how amazing is this picture!!

Going home – the UCSC Arboretum

A pink flower complete with ants
Bottlebrush seeds – a favourite from my home garden

A protea – the bees just love these!

Poker flowers from Western Australia

We have had a taste of spring of late and we enjoyed a whole weekend of sunshine on the first weekend in March. As we had been busy on the weekends doing house and garden stuff we took a day trip to the UCSC Arboretum for their annual hummingbird day. What a splendid day it was with the sun shining it’s warmth down on us while we wandered the gardens looking for the elusive hummingbird. I can understand the disappearance of the hummingbirds as the day got hotter I enjoyed a bit of shade myself as well.

So the kids ended up making their own hummingbirds and we used them as props in the photos 🙂 The highlight of the day was the collection of plants here – they are from Australia, New Zealand and South Africa. It was like walking around at home in Australia except there were many flowers that I had only seen in books and it was just wonderful to see them in a garden in California growing profusely. The bees just love the flowers too and we all want to keep the bees happy pollinating away! So many flowers that I had never seen before as they grow on the West coast of Australia. I am from the East coast and there were so many familiar flowers that I had grown up with, I loved being there and I am looking forward to going back again one day. There are more pictures of the photoshoot here