Groove is in the Heart


The weekend started with a lunch at CERES (the Centre for Education and Research in Environmental Strategies) in Brunswick East – a stones throw away from where we are staying. We have enjoyed visiting CERES since living on this side of town years ago and loved the fact that there is a native nursery, market, cafe, bike repair station, chooks and so much more, all environmentally focussed. The kids enjoyed playing at the adventure playground and we joined in the fun as well! See how you can decorate your garden beds with used bike wheels.

This beautiful tree nest is created with sticks and bicycle wheels on top of a platform in the lower branches of the tree. We found a hole big enough to fit through and escaped the wind chill for a while before we had to slip back down. We met our friends who we met in the Valley many years ago who have now moved back home to Melbourne and reestablished their life here. It was so wonderful to catch up and hear how the transition went for them coming back and how everything gets back into a groove after a time.

On our way to CERES we came across this amazing vintage market called the Lost & Found Market and lucky for us we got to spend a fair amount of time here over the weekend to check out their racks of clothes and vintage wares. There was so much to check out – fortunately for me vintage sizes are generally small, otherwise I could be adding to my luggage! Lots and lots of fabric that I could have added to my luggage were up for grabs but I have bought so much fabric already so I just need the time to get sewing now! My uncle has a vintage market at his house which would be perfect in this space 🙂

Saturday night I caught up with a long lost friend who we haven’t seen since we got married 10 years ago. So much happens in ten years and the kids are a testament to that – it was great that her 4 kids enjoyed time with our kids too. We found chillis in the garden and the kids were eating them just for kicks, so we had to deal with some chilli burnt kiddos!

Sunday came around all too soon and we met my long time work friend from the publishing days for brunch. We met again at CERES at their cafe called The Merri Table with their excellent selection of organic, free range and cruelty free goodness I was so happy! So rather than a coffee I opted for the Golden Milk and what a treat that was with local honey to sweeten the spot. The base is turmeric and ginger to give it that beautiful golden glow.

On our walk back to the tram we saw this huge fluffball cat sitting atop a fence. Just one look at her and it was our cat Bellas Melbourne fluffy cousin. She was so soft and very happy to get some pats in the winter sunshine.

Monday we finally made it to the National Gallery of Victoria – friends of ours enjoyed a day off and hung out with us. At the entrance of the NGV is a waterfall wall and the kids went straight to it – oh it’s really wet they said!

Once we were inside the gallery has many a photo opportunity – the mirror art walk through sculpture piece was just the best for pics! Look above you in the great hall to see the stained glass. And we found this stunning video installation by Lisa Reihana: In Pursuit of Venus – excerpt from the NGV website:

“A live-action video that is inspired by the colonial nineteenth century panoramic wallpaper, Les Sauvages de la Mer Pacifique (1804–05), produced by entrepreneur Joseph Dufour in Neoclassical France. Les Sauvages draws upon journal accounts of Pacific voyages of exploration but Dufour and his team harvested information from different historical sources and relocated the bodies into a fictional Tahitian landscape, removing these Pacific Islanders from their cultural, historical and political reality and dressing them in Neoclassical attire. The Pacific performers unbind the shackles of colonialism by bringing forth visual poetics of Indigenous culture and knowledge and thereby recalibrate colonial history from their own standpoints.”

The kids had a blast at the Fake Food Park by Catalan food designer Martí Guixé has created a vibrant environment in which children are inspired to think creatively about common foods via drawing challenges on the computer and hands-on activities using food shapes in a kitchen.

Of course, no visit to the city of Melbourne is complete without an excellent cup of coffee from Dukes Coffee Roasters after our felafel lunch from ENA Greek Street Food at Southbank. The kids were wanting some dessert so we opted for Nitro Lab for some ice cream created with liquid nitrogen and taking it one step further with some crazy concotions pulling apart a Golden Gaytime and reassembling it with salted caramel and chocolate chips, taking a mango sorbet and adding some jelly lychee flavours and the milo surprise with m&ms, condensed milk and milo sprinkled atop whipped cream. These guys really take it to the next level with these combos!!


Lucky my friend and I had a hidden agenda of a little bit of shoe shopping while we were in the city. The boys took the kids to the comic shop Matador while we escaped down Flinders Lane for a bit of a look see – my friend found a perfect pair of ankle boots and I found these lovely red boots by effegie Made in Portugal on sale, how could I resist 😉  I took them for a walk today to the local park and they were so comfortable! I love European design and it is so hard to find fun shoes back in Cali so it’s best to grab these bargains while I can, great justification for a second pair of new shoes! The first pair I purchased as I accidentally went into the Camper store when all their shoes were half price and an absolute steal, we all love an excellent shoe deal!

A piece a Week – Birthday Sprinkles Cake for birthday number 8

A week of birthdays ending with my birthday today – whew! I cannot believe it is April already and that my birthday is nearly over. It was a relaxing day catching up on what I have to do at the library next Tuesday – we are making a double drawstring bag which is a fun and easy project!

Last week was a week of making cakes, dresses, kids projects and preparation for a birthday party – Whew! We had seen these cakes on Pinterest and wanted to make one for the party, it is made with India Tree Nature’s Colors Carnival Mix Sprinkles. Placing the sprinkles on the top with the stencil was the easy part – see the pic with a parchment stencil of an 8 cut out. Though I realised when you want to take the stencil off place the cake in the fridge for the icing to set a little bit before the stencil is removed otherwise you will see some rough areas of the icing, which is what happened to this 8!

Fun Sprinkles all over the stencil number 8
Big number 8 stencil

The next step was putting the sprinkles on a vertical surface up the side of the cake evenly. This worked out to be quite tricky so we found a couple of YouTube videos that helped us out with the process of placing the sprinkles by hand around the side of the cake.

Adding the sprinkles one by one… our initial plan?!?

My baking assistant

Saturday we organised a small party for some friends at the local paint your own pottery studio downtown called Fireworks Ceramics we had enough kiddos to have the party room which was a lot of fun for everyone. There was a place for snacks and the kids each received a piece of pottery to paint as their project. Here we are trying to look our best for the party!

A very happy 8th to Missy

Each child chose what they liked and put their name on the bottom and painted them with a glaze so when the piece is fired it looks nice, bright and shiny.

The painted pieces by the party guests

The cake was a big hit with everyone wanting to come back for seconds. I made my favorite whole wheat vanilla pound cake recipe from the King Arthur Baking book. It is a perfect cake for icing and decorating as it stays together very well with not a lot of crumbs.

The 8 cake in action
Do I have to blow out the candles??

We tried to marble the inside of the cake with natural food coloring – it was an experiment that works better with not so natural food colors that I had used in the past when making cakes. This time the marble effect is very subtle and fades when the cake is baked. Still I think it was worth seeing what would happen.

The first piece of cake – with a little bit of marbling

On the actual birthday which was Wednesday we went out to dinner to Sushi Tomi downtown Mountain View. That is one fine sushi joint! I had not been there since I was pregnant with Holly as it can always be way too busy with a line out the front – which is a good thing for a sushi restaurant. We had a delicious spread of hand rolls and some incredibly fresh seafood, the standout being the soft shell crab. As I had not bought a new dress for a birthday dinner I ended up making one that day using a pattern from a Japanese Pattern book a friend gave me. Everything is written in Japanese and trying to work out which pattern is which can make you cross eyed. I just needed the dress and the sleeve and found them eventually ready to trace. I really like the look of the dress and I have used a fabric a friend gave me from a dress she did not complete. I like how it had the pleats that she already made for her dress included in this dress. The sleeves are a standout for me with the gold glitter fabric Missy chose out of my stash of costume fabrics.

Wearing the dress I made from a Japanese sewing book

Friday I had to come up with an Australian theme craft for the class. We had decided to make peg dolls at the beginning of the week. But in between chatting to the teacher he wanted it to be an Australian focus so we made Pegapus (Platypus) book marks for the kids. They enjoyed them and it was not very messy and a cinch to clean up – we could have taken it a step further and added a tail and feet though the time ran out. Any crafts you like to do with the kids in your class? Feel free to share…

Platypus peg craft for the classroom