Comfort in the redwoods

A big week last week with celebrations for our newly minted 13-year-old – he had no idea about his present which we have purchased for his school in Melbourne as the kids bring their own device (BYOD). It certainly was a huge surprise to him – when asked what he got for his birthday he mentions it last in his list of gifts as it is something just for a special day! I love that about my kids they really are not that focused on consumer items and appreciate what they receive, thank goodness after living in this area where consumerism is everywhere and everyone has to have the latest tech gadget. Our house has one TV but everyone has a computer, mmmm maybe we have been sucked in too, so much for my anti-consumerist rant!! One of his fave things now are YuGiOh cards and has spent most of his birthday money on them – at least it is something that is creative and has a math component to it, so win win!

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After all the fun celebrations of the week, we took it easy and went camping with our school for one night under the redwoods. This was my first time visiting Portola Redwoods State Park and it was just beautiful. We were in two group sites called the Circle and the Point and it was surrounded by massive trees and right by the creek.

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My daughter took me on a walk through the obstacle course to get to the creek and we found one of the heroes of the redwood forest the banana slug doing his morning duty.

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Looking up high so many tall trees and the energy in amongst the green in the morning was so relaxing. I felt a bit stiff in my body as my mattress had sunk to the ground and it was freezing so in the middle of the night I got up and blew up my mattress and found myself in the same situation come the morning, blah!

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We had a couple of friends take us on the 1-mile return hike to the Old Tree, it was a very special hike leading to a very old redwood that 23 kids circled around on the docent-led hike the day before.

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Massive fallen trees provided many spaces to jump up and walk upon – these are 10-year-olds hopping upon this giant log.

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The sun was peeking through the trees in the morning and we really enjoyed the energy of these tall trees.

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Finally, we made it to the tree and my son is trying to climb it, I gave it a huge hug and said farewell to the redwoods. This is something I will really miss when we go back to Australia but there are other old trees that I can enjoy in the forests around Australia.

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This sign has the info on the age of the old tree at over 1,200 years old protected and living in a State Park. As ambassadors of the environment, our job is to take care of our earth so we can all enjoy the air that we breathe thanks to the trees.

This week before my CSA delivery came the fridge was empty and as my daughter is out on science camp it was a prime time to get into some beets! I made an amazing coconut milk (from coconut milk powder) beet latte for lunch and for dinner I found the Beet Balls recipe in my Samurai Salads book – I think I will have to look at it for more inspiration for autumn dinners. The beet balls were made with lentils and are the perfect addition for a wrap or crumbled into a salad.

Welcome to the Geodome

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Experiences are what life is about for us as a family and finding places to stay where we can relax and unwind from the daily grind is something we aspire to. To celebrate another April birthday, I wanted the experience of staying in a geodome for the weekend. We found this beautiful geodome out in the Santa Cruz mountains complete with banana slugs and a rushing creek right by – this all appealed to our back to the earth lifestyle, so I booked it pretty much after we had spent a weekend in the caravan in the redwoods the month before.

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This space was incredible and so peaceful to sleep in – the owners of this geodome found it on Craigslist. They purchased it from a family who were living in it in Watsonville, who had they had their 2nd baby in the dome ūüėÄ Previously the geodome was living in a commune in Sonoma, what a life and experience this space has had!

The kids really enjoyed jumping around in the creek – note to self, take the water shoes for everyone whenever there is water as no doubt they will get their shoes wet! And looking underneath the redwoods, we found a few banana slugs.

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The geodome had a guidebook on what to check out in the area, and we decided we wanted to go for a hike taken care of by the Land Trust of Santa Cruz – called Byrne-Milliron Forest. This hike was highly recommended in the guidebook and only 30 minutes away down the hill near a town called Corralitos.

It was a hard ask for one of our little hikers who does not like going uphill but when you go uphill there is always nice views to be had. We found a plaque at the AJ’s Point of View dedicated to a steward¬†of the forest, who had looked after this forest for 27 years – such dedication and I truly understand what he meant by magical. The hike was just over 3 miles to a white redwood tree – it was uphill for a while, and then we found the view!

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When we reached a place on the map called AJs Point of View it was filled with art created by locals artists using nature and a mailbox full of books and journals (where you could write an entry) donated by Jeff Helmer, the forest caretaker. The added bonus was water where you really needed a refill after the uphill in the sunshine on a warm spring day.

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We got in touch with our wild side when travelling from the AJs Point of View as the trail narrowed and crossed a creek. We had to use a rope to jump across to the foot trail surrounded by wildflowers and sorrel, this is where the magic happens.

In the sunlight, these little blue flowers were lit up like little fireflies in amongst the green. To walk on this narrow trail led to the white redwood where the trail ended. The trail went up and down, and at points, it was steep and hard on the knees and legs!

And eventually, we took the trail up from where the kids were done up to the white redwood to this chair that read ‘For the Glory Not the Gold’. This is what being in nature is about to me feeling it within and in communion with the natural embrace of the green of the trees.

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Here are some of the trees of this 2nd growth redwood forest, there were many trees like the 600-year-old white redwood that were taken from here, but over time their little tree family had grown around them. Ash is sitting there by a burnt redwood not wanting to go any further – a lot of these trees we had missed going on the track to the white redwood as we had to watch where our feet when we were walking.

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Check out my acorn cap!

 

What an incredible discovery weekend for all of us all the while mourning the loss of our beloved cat Mack. We had a fire for him by the geodome and enjoyed some peace contemplating the good times we had together.

The geodome had a journal for all the guests to share their thoughts and illustrations of their time. The kids shared the two at the top, and the illustration below was my favourite by a very talented artist.

Even where we parked the car was a geodome for the kids to play on – Ash with his new friend the bird we found at a church charity sale where everything was free!

On Sunday we went to Sunset State Beach for a bit of beach time – living by the beach most of my life I feel very much at home when we visit, and it was so good to walk in the ice cold water checking out the sand dollars.

We honoured our furry friend at the beach by saying goodbye in the waves and remembering our love for him.

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It is with so much gratitude that I enjoyed this weekend and am celebrating my birthday writing this today for all the wonderful experiences we have together as a family. Soon we will be homeward bound in Australia where we can start some new adventures. My love is with you for all eternity and beyond, Namaste x

 

 

An RV in the Redwoods

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After a couple of weeks of preparing for a couple of exams and finally completing them, it was time for a bit of rest and relaxation. Timing was perfect as California State Parks Foundation invited us (as Legacy donors) to a morning with the elephant seals on Saturday, so we booked an RV in the redwoods with Air BnB in Bonny Doon which was 30 minutes away from Ano Nuevo State Park where we went on our elephant seal tour.

We managed to find some delicious pie fro Pie Ranch – a place I have wanted to check out for ages and whose philosophy towards food is totally aligned with mine. And of course we had to buy some pie – we scored the lemon and the honey oat which were both super tasty with a cup of tea. We enjoyed the time in the RV catching up on knitting, reading, playing Nintendo, listening to audio books and generally relaxing under the redwoods.

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Saturday morning we had our early morning hike to Ano Nuevo State Park to check out the elephant seals. We had a funny and knowledgeable docent Ben who gave us the full history and life cycle of elephant seals and how their numbers went from near extinction to what they are now close to 2,000 seals just on this stretch of this State Park!

I had my 28-105mm lens to capture these guys – we got so close to them, and I managed to get some incredible shots. Of course, a telephoto would have been the best as I had lens envy every time I saw one sitting atop a tripod. But still, our docent said we did not really need it, as there were so many and they were so close to people. I was so happy to get some beautiful shots of these vulnerable creatures. There are many ways they are vulnerable ad they risk getting eaten by white sharks on their migratory route, the males have to prove their dominance amongst the harem of lady seals, the females develop a baby every year by mating with many males, the weaners are left on the beach to practice swimming and then they too will migrate miles and miles through treacherous shark infested waters to eat deep-sea fish and squid and hopefully come back to the same beach, the saddest seals are the ¬†non-dominant males; they will just starve themselves to a certain point on the beach until they feel it’s time to go and eat and then come back for another mating season – the life of an elephant seal, who knew…

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On top of all the fun of seeing the elephant seals and the area being a wildlife refuge we saw so many birds and among them the great pelicans in their flying formation. The views over the dunes and around the sand were just breathtaking, and we were very lucky to score some sunshine on our walk with the seals.

California State Parks Foundation had set up a luncheon for us back at the barn, and we had the option of going back via the beautiful beach but to stay back 25 feet away from the elephant seals. We found one, and he looked like a rock on the beach. The beach was just so beautiful with its many rock collections and colours. The bonus was getting back to the barn was crossing New Years Creek without getting wet feet! Even though the water did not look very deep – you had to navigate your way around without getting too wet which added to the excitement.

We finished our hike just after lunch, so we had a whole afternoon to chill out, so we wandered over to Pescadero Marsh to see if we could find any birds. The kids were a bit excited and scared them off, so we decided it was a good place just to chill out on the grass and watch the clouds in the sunny afternoon sky.

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The evening after our trip out to Ano Nuevo and Pescadero ended with some rain, so we relaxed in the RV enjoying the sounds of the rain through the redwoods and on the roof. Such a perfect family getaway amongst nature.

2017 The year of exploring new frontiers

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This year I am on a mission to visit places that we have not explored before and this means getting out a map and going OK this is something different let’s give it a go. So today we visited a place we have been before for camping and a picnic but never for a hike!! The hike within the park is an area called Phleger Estate¬†that was saved with the help of the Peninsula Open Space Trust in 1995 protecting the second growth redwood forest for future generations.¬†Coming from Washington State with all the green and visiting this preserve after the rains we appreciated seeing the green on the trees and the water in the creeks here in the Bay Area at long last!

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The highlight of having the rains and the creeks full of water is locating these little fellas, the California Newt Рwith the amazing camouflage they are quite hard to find as they blend in with the undergrowth but we did manage to find two. We may be going newt tracking as there will be more to be found in other parks around the Bay Рespecially Butano State Park. They are very hard to photograph too even though they are quite slow they easily get lost amongst their surroundings.

I took out my 50mm low light lens into the forest today to see how it performs under the shade of the trees and I am so impressed! I would have many more beautiful shots if I had thought of this when we were in Washington recently as the overcast day combined with the shade of trees made it pretty tricky to take pics. I love the detail of this lens especially for close up images of moss and fungi and I found so many after the rain.

 

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Entering the Golden Gate National Recreation Area – need to find more hikes
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Brilliant white fungi
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These are so special with the way they grow – so inspiring for textiles
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The creeks are flowing beautifully
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The mossy grandfather tree with the second growth redwoods behind
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After the storm, this tree came down across the trail
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Close up of a redwood cone and its babies

 

As an example of some of the images taken today with the 50mm fixed lens – you do get stuck sometimes if you want to capture more in the frame but it worked today for the subjects of close-up foliage and landscapes of the river. The trees can be tricky with their height depending on your angle.

In the BA Hiker info page, there was an emphasis on the signposts on the trail so I had to take a picture of this one with the horse and the Indian. As we were wandering through the trail I saw power lines going through and what is a power line without a pair of sneakers hanging from them – this runner must have had enough!

 

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Pegasus with a wig
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In honour of David Cronenberg’s Naked Lunch?
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Yum homemade granola and yoghurt
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Excited for his burger and chips!
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Everything has to have a side of bacon for this girl!
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Nothing like an ice cream for the Lady Liberty herself!

 

After our hike as we were in Woodside we visited a legendary cafe – (again something we have not experienced) for lunch. This place is called Buck’s of Woodside and they serve breakfast until 2:30 pm on public holidays so we were sorted following our hike. They did have a delicious choice of meals for lunch on the menu too! It is a place where my Uncle would just love as it reminded me of his House of Vintage back in Australia. What a collection of stuff in there and there’s a whole catalogue of it on the website as an added bonus the food was fresh and tasty and the service was excellent! (This is saying a lot for an American restaurant – usually, service is pretty mediocre, I come from Melbourne where the service is exemplary).

On our way home from hike and lunch it was our day to spend time with the ladies – the chickens, and they were so excited to get out into the sunshine and do their chicken yoga in the grass and run around. Here is Missy with her new chicken MichelleBella. And of course, as I had my camera I could not resist the goats on the farm!

 

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Oh, look at this cute pygmy goat!
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Ash hanging out with a baby goat

 

A piece a week – A top for a party and a Wedding!

With the deadline of the show fast approaching – October 25th, everything seems to be on schedule in regard to the inventory.This is a good thing which means the next step the photography! Though I keep on finding fabric and wanting to make other things as I am looking for linings and fabrics for my pieces. The focus has to be there to meet my deadline and have everything ready for the show with everything photographed, tagged and ready to display! As the next project on the agenda is Halloween – our favorite time of year!!
With the excitement of buying an overlocker this week, I had to check out how fast it is to make garments. I started with a pattern I enjoy wearing of late and made a top. The fabric I found was from a shopping spree last year in Portland with my good friend. We had a blast checking out fabric and looking for shoes and eating amazing food. The fabric has a gorgeous vintage feel and I used black as a contrast to break up all the floral and found this super cool button as I was cleaning up my thread box. Amazing, the things that I can find in the sewing room!!
This looks cute with a pair of skinny jeans Рmy utilitarian day wear of late! 
The vintage button I found in my stash
 Saturday was a big day for everyone Рas it was the wedding of a good friend and neighbor of ours who moved up to the mountains to live. We were all so excited about the wedding and the fun part was getting dressed up and finding a fun outfit to wear!
I made the shift dress a while ago and it is super comfortable with fabric a friend gave me. ¬†And lucky for me I found these ombre tights on Etsy to go with the dress – how did I know the day was going to be so hot!! Ash had a tie that said ‘I am a Rock Star’ and Missy had a cute Mini Boden dress and sequin shoes. Of course the girls were the happiest to have the opportunity to dress up ūüôā A friend of mine let me borrow her beautiful ceramic pendant to go with the dress – so perfect!
All dressed up and ready to go Рfinally we get to look good as a family together! 

Sitting on a hay bale and waiting for the bride to show up!

The wedding in action!

Congratulations to my dear friends – Cheers with Champagne in the Redwoods

A table bouquet that came home with us – thank you!