Family frolics

Back with my family in Redcliffe on Sunday as we took the train from the Sunshine Coast to the new train station at Kippa-Ring, it was very exciting and so picturesque with the pineapple fields and sugar cane. Very different from the slow Caltrain back in the valley. I have been eating a lot of fish and chips and my good food diet has gone out the window but hey I only visit here once a year and this food is so good!! The walk to the beach from the Air Bnb is only 15 minutes through the back streets leading to a beautiful boardwalk along the entire beachfront.

What I enjoy is visiting with my family when I am here – here is my aunty outside her place with us and the kids with their great aunt. Every time I go to my aunty’s place I check out her collection of retro housewares and she is happy to give them away, this time the glitter seahorse caught my eye!

The kids have been wanting to go for a swim at the lagoon by the beach so why not on a beautiful Queensland sunny winters day we took them out and enjoyed more chips and a delicious fava bean burger from the Suttons Beach Pavillion.  The playground was a lot of fun with a giant pink cage and the gran and grandad enjoyed spending time outdoors with the kids where they could see them in their element.

The weekend was a lot of fun starting with a big night Friday of big Australian wines, a Shiraz or two and a delicious dinner at home with the kids. Saturday we met some friends at a local handmade market and came back for a cuppa and biscuits at our Air BnB. The market was super cool with some wonderful local designers that I loved especially a woodworker who made these stools that fold and can sit together they were so functional and beautiful in design. I am on the lookout for furniture for our house in Melbourne but I will not know what we need until we build, my hubby and I are starting a Pinterest board of ideas for when the time comes. Oh and the added bonus of this market was the food trucks and they were both vegan, so I had a vegan sausage roll which was delicious – oh the food memories I am making on this trip. My sister’s man made a beautiful farewell lunch of potato rosti with poached egg and smoked salmon, sour cream and dill that I truly enjoyed! Until next time my friends.

And to wrap up our weekend we celebrated Christmas in July with the family which was so much fun and of course, I did not eat the roast but scored the grilled barramundi, chips and salad – oh those chips again! At least I know when I go back to California I will not be eating them as I do not like fries. I drank a couple of glasses of NZ Sauvignon Blanc and felt very happy but it was a sad afternoon as I said farewell to my sister, nephew and her cat Millie, until we meet again we love you all!


We are Family


On tour visiting my aunt’s place today we were looking through more photos including my wedding album from a mere 10 years ago. Thank goodness it is safe with my aunt as it may be in someones garage in Alabama if I did not keep it safe here in Australia. The story goes that when we moved to the USA our removal company lost a massive box of our possessions that may have ended up in the land of the lost! Trying to locate this box was when I found out about American customer service – that is customer service minus the focus on service, boo!

To keep the kiddos entertained while we wandered down memory lane my uncle took them to the beach to check out the park and the pelicans. Ash had his first taste of a meat pie for morning tea, which he really enjoyed down to the last flake of pastry. Meat pies full of flies 🙂 The kids were at the park across the way where Pelicans are huge in these parts of the world and very plentiful.

We went down to the local fish and chip shop to check out what was on offer so I tried the grilled Goldband Snapper with some crispy chips – fish and chips here cannot be beat! That is one meal I will always enjoy though a walk is usually needed after scoffing down all the chips. Plenty of ibis came by to see if they could grab some stray food and the funniest thing happened to Missy when she had a chip in her hands above her head a cheeky little butcherbird grabbed the food from her hand and flew off – such a fun experience!

At the fish and chip shop there is a fresh fish market straight from the trawler from up North Queensland – there were plenty of crabs and prawns and these special little fellas called the Moreton Bay Bug which have flesh like a lobster or crab. The picture on the right is of the New Zealand mussel and the colour of their shell was just stunning. I so wanted to feast on everything there.

Little shrimp and Large Ocean Occy (octopus) to snapper heads and fish a plenty gave me inspiration for a seafood BBQ feast – today I just settled for some fresh Australian Pacific Oysters to enjoy with the fish and chips. The funny thing is that when I was looking at the fish to buy here I had to be careful on where the origin was, I found a Barramundi that was from China. To me as a foodie who loves to dine on local foods it was a bit of a shock to find this at a local fish monger. I imagine it is a supply and demand thing and if the people want Barramundi they don’t care where it came from, even if it was on a fish farm in China. I am happy to support the local fish companies here and tonight for dinner I had Tasmanian smoked salmon from the Huon River region – it is so worth that extra to support a company that has some sustainability practices in action.  I love Tasmania from the first time I visited it as a backpacker to the last time I visited as an environmental activist in the Tarkine region with The Wilderness Society. It is a place that I will be wanting to visit again and take the kids to see the World Heritage forests in the future – most likely when it is warmer and lets hope those forests are still there.

Lucky for us after all that seafood we found an outdoor gym so the kids could use up more of their energy on the cross trainer and get some weight training. Such a great spot for this gym equipment by the beach as you are getting a nice sea breeze while you are working out.

We have been here for over a week now and another day has flown by with more eating, catching up and hanging out. One thing I have been enjoying are the colours of the sunset and these super fluffy cloud formations, maybe I am too busy to notice them back in Cali as the time of the day I am too busy. Being on holiday gives you time to stop and appreciate the beauty and sounds around you, it is great to be home.

A piece a Week – Mama time out in Portland

Friday finally came and I was so tired and the thought of getting on a plane was exhausting! The family dropped me off at San Francisco International to board my flight in time – you know to allow for the security and all and once I was through all that it was time to relax!!! 
I got out my knitting and waited for the announcement to board the plane to have a nice little nap before my friend picked me up around 10:30 at night. It was worth getting there in the evening though we all managed to chat until 1 o’clock in the morning, so it was a late night! 2013  was the last time I had visited Portland!! 
After a bit of a sleep in we headed out to brunch and a bit of shopping at vintage store and my favorite shoe store Imeldas. And shopping in Portland is so much fun as I love the clothes plus the bonus is having no sales tax, especially when buying shoes!!
Waiting in the rain for brunch at Roost
So the first stop was Harlow in Hawthorne and I enjoyed the Mercy Blues for Brunch – sitting on top of herbed polenta were two poached eggs, steamed kale, black beans, corn and slow roasted tomatoes with a creamy chipotle cashew hollandaise, paprika and scallions with a side of avocado. Now that is what I call a wonderful start to the day – I paired it with the kombucha on tap, my favorite Yerba Mate. Sure if I am living in San Francisco I can get a brunch like this but Portland is my haven for food! I love how all the cafes take a responsibility to serve ethically and sustainably and most importantly locally!! I never eat brunch in Mountain View the offerings are very slim.
After brunch we headed out onto SE Hawthorne Boulevard for some shopping and finally scoring some gifts, a book at Powells and I found some boots then it was time for dinner at the Block and Tackle. We had a plate of fresh oysters which were divine followed by an amazing roast vegetable salad with a yoghurt curry dressing. My friend and I shared the most amazing Black Cod that melted in your mouth and an Octopus dish in a chowder broth – going out and experiencing food like this is what I live for. 
Dinner at the Block and Tackle – cocktails, oysters and seafood

Sunday we headed out to brunch at Roost – yet another delicious brunch with their ‘eggs till 2’ menu with smoked trout, eggs, onions on a thick toast with a creamy sauce – just look at that, this is how I get the inspiration for my own cooking at home!

My what an amazing way to start the day!
Bloody Marys all around with our brunch
What trigged a mama vacay away was a trip to see the Italian Style exhibition at the Portland Art Museum. What an inspiring exhibition especially for me to see the designs from 1945 to present day and to see the influence Italy has had on fashion. From the most beautifully designed dresses, to the fabric design and textiles, to the weaving mills with the knitwear and cashmere, the shoes (of course!!) and the exquisite beading and detailing. Filming in Italy with such classics as Roman Holiday were featured as well as the Alfa Romeo Spider and a Vespa – an original Vespa, one of only 3 left in the world. 
Just outside the exhibit 
Hanging outside the exhibition reflections on a sculpture

Traveling around Portland in style with my friends listening to 80s and wandering around every store with the same 80s mix is what this weekend was about. No I didn’t bring home any 80’s fashions unfortunately, as I have been there before!!

Nothing like the 1980’s
For my last dinner with my friends family was at Dick’s – a little innuendo is always appreciated and a lot of fun. We had burgers and fries, I enjoyed a salmon burger and very tasty sweet potato fries that are air baked. And these guys had Kombucha on tap too – Portland to me is a foodie lovers paradise. For dessert I enjoyed the Paleo Parfait and was ready for the flight back home. The pic below is in the back streets from the main drag in the Sunnyside neighborhood – I found lots of little sculptures in the street and a mandala painted on the road, my people!

Happy to drive this roundabout! 

Farewell to Portland and hopefully I will be back soon maybe to get another tattoo – a wonderful respite from the Bay Area craziness and back to a creative heaven where people care about the earth, their food and a slower pace to life.

At the airport – art and a piano playing, aaah!

This weeks ceramics pieces I made at home and glazed in class – a couple of succulent pots and small sauce bowls. The kids bought me a succulent from the market this weekend and it fits perfectly.

Multi coloured ceramics
Monday was a day off school so we went looking for a USPS mailbox! They are rare creatures indeed, I looked it up on USPS and found this one. 
Hello Mailbox, nice to meet  you!

Oh and Monday night I had planned a night out on the town at my favorite restaurant in Mountain View Xahn check out the presentation and the feast we had. This is the vegetarian tacos, papaya salad, vege buddha rolls and smoked salmon on prawn crackers. This spread is what is on offer for Happy Hour and I am always happy with the Lychee Martini at $5 each it is the best way to spend a couple of hours with the ladies.

Xahn for happy hour is the best!