Relaxation at last

It is no wonder my lack of sleep is catching up with me now Рit all started with staying up each night finalising my Case Study for my final assignment for the teaching period. Now that I am done this week it is such a weight lifted and I feel free for a month and I can catch up on other things that I have left behind!

The fun last week was the Super Blue Blood Moon which we woke up for at 5:30am on Wednesday morning – it was very early but so worth it just to see the red moon – incredible! I have pictures from the NASA Live coverage plus a couple of pictures I took with my phone camera and you can see the tiny dot in a sea of black!

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Thursday we had week 3 of Arts Focus and it was embroidery and fleece pillows with a button and as our class has been working so well and completing their projects, my co-lead came up with the button tree blankie so the kids can have practice sewing buttons!

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I was back at work on Friday morning and the kids found a freshly hatched monarch butterfly drying in the sunshine, it was just beautiful to experience – you can see the cocoon just above in the bush.

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Come Friday the opening of the Community School of Music and Art School show was on display and work by Miss H was there so I dashed in to take a pic of it. This is her second piece on display with the CSMA over the last year and hopefully, we get her peacock pastel drawing back from the school soon.

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Saturday was a Ride with Lenny the Mountain View Mayor and Safe Mountain View and Great Streets were there to help out on the day and I found peeps who love Public bikes and here is mine in red, Janet’s in white and Tracy’s in Green – looking very Italian! We are all bike advocacy folks who enjoy our commuter bikes ūüėÄ

Sunday we finally had a family day of relaxation at the beach and enjoyed a small amount of time at the beach with a walk and a dip in the icy cold Pacific Ocean, it felt so good to be burying my feet in the sand and grounding with the earth.

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The kids were hungry so we wandered to downtown Santa Cruz and it was so quiet and lovely – maybe because the Superball/bowl was on and everyone was partying with their big screen TVs and dip? Anyway, we were out and about and found this brunch place right at the end of the main drag with these delicious poached eggs on a couple of muffins with avocado and hollandaise sauce with a pot of Japanese green tea – now that is what I like and thank you, Santa Cruz, for being so cool!

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Lulu Carpenter’s was a very lovely cafe with outdoor seating both on the main drag and out the back in a courtyard with a bunch of tables in the middle with students working away on their computers – I was glad not to be one this weekend! The range of teas was just divine and I really enjoy a good cup of tea I even had a decent cup rather than a mug to drink my tea which is refreshing for a cafe in America.

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And for our next visit to Santa Cruz, the Museum of Art and History looks like fun – we missed an event on yarn bombing, these guys are speaking my language!!

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.

A piece a week – A Summer Top

I found at some stretch fabric at FabMo recently and I thought to make a summer top Рmy wardrobe is lacking cute tops these days so I am on a mission to find the perfect one. So I found this book Casual Sweet Clothes when I was shopping at Powells book store in Portland Рtheir collection of craft books cannot be beat. This is a Japanese pattern book that has really interesting basic wardrobe pieces to wear with jeans Рmy utilitarian wardrobe these days with the kids. The Japanese sewing books have so many patterns in them and if I can find 5 I like then the book makes up for the cost of a pattern. To copy the patterns you have to trace them onto kraft paper or whatever paper you have available (I save the brown packing paper and iron it and it is perfect for sewing patterns). This top is very easy construction and quite fun to make and learn new stitches like blind hemming on my sewing machine! I am now on a mission to create more pieces from this super cool Japanese pattern book!

Back view of the top – lovely draped sleeve!

I added silver seam binding to the neck – what a discovery seam binding is for stretch fabrics!

Hanging out with Mack

Captured my baby girl Bella!

Last Saturday we were meeting long lost friends / neighbors of ours for a hike but as we underestimated time from our Scouting event in San Bruno to Wilder Ranch, Santa Cruz we met for brunch at Whale City Bakery in Davenport, just down the road from the scheduled hike! This place is a find for it’s bakery with all their goodies made from scratch. This eclair from their case of goodies was delicious and looking at their pastry case I could have eaten much more but I went for an omelet with an english muffin for brunch and it was perfect with their chai tea. Afterwards we wandered across Highway 1 to the beach and explored for a little while. This beach is popular for local campers – though hauling your stuff down the cliff does not look appealing to me but I am sure it will be beautiful and quiet at night with the added bonus of being free to camp!!! Anyway I took some pictures of the landscape and turned them into clothing – I just love the textures!

Amazing eclairs at Whale City Bakery in Davenport

Textured leggings with rocks and tags 
Graffiti rock 
Looking down into a tunnel that led to a forest of trees!

Sunday we went over to Oakland for a day trip to visit the Cat Town Cafe and have brunch at a Jamaican place down the road. It was a lovely hour with the cats up for adoption at $50 each or $75 for two with their shots and their microchip all ready to go. I love the time we spent there and the kids enjoyed themselves too. It was $10 for the hour with snacks and coffee outside the cat enclosure while you are waiting for your appointment РI really recommend booking ahead on the weekend at their website as it is very popular. 

Hanging in a cat tree using Oakland Architecture

You beautiful kitty pooping rainbows!

This week at school flew by with Market day on Thursday! Market Day at our school is a day where the kids make up projects in class and sell them for pony beads. Everyone gets 2 pony beads to work their “stall” for 15 minutes for their class. It is a wonderful morning out and the theme for the 1st grade class was a cardboard arcade, inspired by the Caine’s Arcade video. This is a peacock ride that cost 3 pony beads – made from cardboard and painted by Team Peacock and rolled upon a child’s sled engineered by one of our parents to make it safe for the kiddos to ride upon! Pulling the kids around the loop was quite a workout – volunteering and exercise what a score!

Wanna ride the peacock?

A piece a Week – A stingray gift for a baby and a weekend away to Aptos

For my birthday I booked an Air BnB getaway by the beach which was so relaxing. The times have been so busy these past few weeks that a weekend away by the beach was the best thing to do. The fun thing was that it was the same weekend as Easter so the easter bunny came to visit the lovely garden right by the house. On the way back home we stopped by at Capitola Рwe have lived here for 8 years and this was the first time we visited Capitola by the sea. I was entranced by the Venetian Hotel pictures I had seen on the internet Рso I was on a mission to find them! 
On the Sunday we were at Capitola it was a rainy and overcast perfect for photos and Capitola is an excellent place to take pictures, it still has a lot of old signage and the Venetian Hotel is so colourful. The evening before was my birthday and we went out to dinner to a vegetarian restaurant with Sri Lankan and Indian flavors! I was so excited to find a vegetarian restaurant with a Sri Lankan spin and could not wait to go – the restaurant was Malabar and the food was divine. I really should not have worn a belt that evening as I ate so much!! There was no alcohol on the menu but they did have a collection of very tasty drinks and a favorite was dates, rose water and almond milk so I will have to try this at home, what a combination. Malabar in downtown Santa Cruz was certainly a highlight of my weekend, a vegetarian restaurant and Sri Lankan goodness all in one ūüôā¬†
For one of our teachers at school I made this stingray (our mascot the Stevenson Stingrays) for her little baby it is a spin on the Bunny Blanket Buddy pattern by Lion Brand Yarn. 
Hello stingray in the sea!

This is an eggplant dosa from Malabar – just like my mum used to make her eggplant curry. As the kids are not fans of eggplant at home so when I get the opportunity to eat it at a restaurant I grab it! This was spicy and in a Sri Lankan style of curry that took me back to my roots.

This dosa and it’s accompaniments – yummo!!
On our way back from our weekend away we stopped at Capitola and here it looks like the kids are wandering alleyways of Europe ūüôā This is the Venetian Hotel right near the beach built by a Venetian Architect in 1924 – super cool and very colorful!¬†
Look out you are on private property!! 

We took a wander on the pier where you can hire boats and kayaks to go fishing and hang out on the water for the day – I found this though Mr A is not too keen!

Should we go on a boat ride?? 

We had the easter bunny drop his eggs the night before in the garden – that was very foolish as when we woke up in the morning for the egg hunt the eggs had been pilfered by the bandits of the night! The raccoons had a feast of easter eggs and enjoyed the milk chocolate and dissed the dark chocolate eggs!

The hunters in action!

Egg aftermath after the bandits struck ūüė¶

Score from the Easter bunny

“This dark chocolate egg sucks,” says Racoon and his buds!

A piece a Week – Patchwork snakes and Sea creatures

Another week and more action – this weekend we had a date with the beach! We went to a place called Davenport near Santa Cruz for the morning. It was quite overcast in the morning but still warm, we even found people camping on the beach. Yes that is illegal & we asked them about how they went about it and as long as your car is out of the way and you don’t get a ticket you are golden! Still it is a haul carrying all your gear up and down the steep slopes.¬†
The feeling of walking in the sand is perfect to melt away any stress or worry after a busy week. Even playing in the cold water was exhilarating and woke me up, igniting my appetite. So the plan was to go to a favorite bakery of mine in Santa Cruz, Kelly’s French Bakery and I found the gooiest eclair with a custard filling that I had been craving for all week – it is amazing how the universe works!¬†
The plan for the Santa Cruz day trip was to go to a lecture at the Seymour Center at UCSC to hear about the book ‘The Extreme Life of the Sea ‘which was fascinating for everyone, I did feel somewhat sleepy after an amazing lunch of smoked salmon, avocado and poached eggs on sourdough toast. Ash ¬†was so excited to get the book signed by the authors (a father and son team) and he finally met an ‘actual’ author of a book! Let’s hope that it inspires him to continue his writing in class ūüôā he has a very creative writing style and at 8 years old how lucky is he to be encouraged to write creative poetry about his loves in his life!
Kids enjoyed a wave waterfall
Love heart in the sand from Missy to Mamma
Kids create a path of rocks around their little creek of water
Ash being daring by the waterfall from the waves
Finding a ‘By the Wind Sailor’ or Velellla
We took this guy, in the above pic, back to the Marine Lab at UCSC to find out what it was and they are meant to be blue Рthis guy was a bit sun burnt! And as we talking about this guy there has been thousands of these them washing up on the beach along the west coast this year. Last time we saw one was our weekend away at Carmel 3 weeks ago. 
At the marine lab – a nudibranch creeps up the side of the tank, I loved the colors

A shark egg sac awaiting fertilization
A sea hare moves very fast indeed

After the lecture we wandered around the lab to check out the sea creatures that were on display and this guy the Sea Hare was enjoying sea lettuce and apparently they grow to 20 lbs – that is one huge slug! The volunteer we were chatting to was enjoying getting him fresh lettuce from the beach outside every day and watching him grow very, very fast!

This week’s projects are in production mode so slowly but surely the inventory will get there as I have less than 4 weeks to get it all together! I found these bows to experiment with and as they were huge and I wanted to jazz them up somewhat so out came the scissors and the metallic markers and what a transformation! They look like watercolor on silk and I just love them!

Bows Redux – a perfect size for your hair

 The other project I had on the calendar was to get these snakes made for the show. I had made a couple for the kiddos and I have a lot of scraps so to add to my quilt / patchwork theme the four of these came together.

A snake posse

A close up of the snake eyes!

And here is another patchwork bag nearly ready to go, it just needs the straps and then another 2 more to make for inventory… Step by step everything is coming together – yay!

Another bag for the collection, nearly completed!

A piece a Week – A Spring Tunic Top and some Silk Dyed Easter Eggs

A whole outfit with the top and cute vegan shoes from Vegan Wares in Melbourne

This week somehow just flew by yet again! Still I managed to finish another tunic in rayon from the book I am Cute Dresses. This time the store had just over a yard of fabric left so I just worked with that so it became a top as I cannot get away with wearing skirts just below my butt anymore! I love the way this fabric drapes as a top and I would definitely choose this type of fabric as an alternative to silk – it is way cheaper and easier to care for as well.

Above is a shot with an outfit ready for a very hot day, it is super cute with a short skirt and I just bought some red pants that would go nicely as well from Betabrand in San Francisco – once I rock out in that outfit I will have to post some pics here! They were having a great sale on the weekend where my hubby scored this awesome hoodie for just under $100. Shop Local I say!

With buttons of three this week 

A close up of the fabric 

I managed to get an easter activity in at the last minute as a friend of mine did this fabulous trick with silk ties and eggs. I found a tutorial and made some eggs with some silk scraps from my fabric bin. They came out looking beautiful and I know for future reference to wrap fully not quickly but time was not my friend on Friday.

Silk dyed easter eggs in a ceramic bowl I made

Yay!! Happy to have found eggs left by the easter bunny in the garden!

Camping over the summer…. continued

It has been a long time between posts as the summer holidays came to an end. The last month and a half of the holidays I had hardly a day on my own to sit down and write… I am now back somewhat on track with the kiddos back at school and working on goodies for a trunk show happening in a couple of weeks and the FabMo Textile Art Boutique which will be happening at Menlo Park. I wanted to add some of my last couple of adventures to the Summer Camp trip piccies – the last 3 trips were Limekiln State Park at Big Sur, Butano State Park in Pescadero and¬†Henry Cowell State Park near Santa Cruz. All beautiful in their own way!
100 ft Limekiln Falls at Limekiln State Park, Big Sur 
One of the amazing sunsets a walk from our campground at Limekiln SP
Another sunset completely accessible from our campground – it was so good to go to the beach after dinner
Banana slugs were a plenty on our redwood hike at Butano State Park Рwe enjoyed their campfire programs with our wonderful nature interpreter, Rosanna Рcheck out their site here they have some very cool activities and hikes for the kiddos and of course the parents! Our campsite was secluded and away from the crowds and we loved the campfires every evening under the redwoods with a cup of vino. 
One of the many Banana Slugs on our hike at Butano State Park
Our last summer camp trip we went to Henry Cowell Redwoods State Park near Santa Cruz this was a couple of nights under the redwoods. These guys had some seriously entertaining camp fire programs including a trivia night and sing a long. We enjoyed a lovely long hike from our campground to the Redwood Grove by the creek seeing Thomas the train and horses along the way. This is a camping area super close to the Bay Area and you have to get in early to get a site РI booked the site in January! 
Manzanita tree branch peeling 
Leaves of three let them be – poison oak looking autumnal
Holly trying out our new campfire dessert the campfire cone, I found the recipe here  this looks good too
This tree is known as The Giant at the Henry Cowell Redwood Grove by the Visitor Center

Day out to the Beach

A visit to Santa Cruz to go to see a lecture by Dr Love about Rockfish was the trigger for this day out to the Seymour Centre at UCSC. We wandered around the boardwalk before heading off to lunch at The Picnic Basket which was full of tasty goodness.

Ash hanging on the beach 

A gargoyle and a pigeon at the Haunted House – whooo!!

 After the beach and lunch we went on over to the Seymour Centre for the lecture Рmy youngest one was not too keen so we wandered around and checked out the starfish and sharks. There was even an amazing looking lobster on display. Though the starfish touch pool is always popular!

Swell shark sleeping

Lovely lobster