Myths and Legends

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What a lovely collection of books and placing Myths right next to the Orwell book 1984 is pretty funny as 1984 does not really feel like a myth anymore! Still, the legends are the books next door a bunch of Star Wars parody books – yes more humour is what we need. Now on to last week that went by in a flash! It was a night of teaching double drawstring bags at the library followed by my birthday then a night out to the Arts Focus exhibition, and then Thursday night it was PBL (Project Based Learning) night and Open house at school. Friday night I still had to polish up my science essay so I could submit it this week! Just too much – I think I need to stop and breathe, which is why I went to Yoga on Saturday!

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The double drawstring bag sewing workshop at the library was a hit with a full class of 12 students who were eager to get their bags completed. We have 1.5 hours in the community room – so it is over pretty quickly. A lucky few did get them done, but lucky the library has open hours for sewing over the weekend and during the weekend for the students to complete their bags. The prep for this workshop is just cutting the fabric to size, and lucky my friend gave me a box of fabric I could use for this class that was just perfect.

Myth – I do not like alcohol! I have not been drinking as I need a clear head to write essays and focus on my University work, but it was lovely to have just one cocktail and feel pretty good! A fact I do love food, feeling uninspired by the Bay Area offerings for food locally I opted for a ‘sustainable seafood’ restaurant called Pacific Catch that opened up in the local shopping centre. Ideally, I am wanting one of those fantastic Portland restaurants that serve alcohol and raw vegan, local, organic food, but alas that is not to happen here, it’s more about the beers and the burgers – boring! Anyway, I will be back home in Melbourne soon and the food there is the best. Still, I had a lovely feast at Pacific Catch with some appetisers starting with some Poke – absolutely delicious! The coconut shrimp – very moreish but not too good for someone who doesn’t eat fried food too often. My main was fish tacos served with black beans and creole fries, yummo! Though the fries had to be passed on to my hubby and the kids as they were too much fried goodness for me. Afterwards (as there were no real exciting dessert options at this restaurant) we wandered downtown Mountain View to my fave treat place – Alexanders Patisserie and had a lemon tart and some other incredible mascarpone based deliciousness! Such a lovely evening of eating with the family 😀

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My friend’s ceramics exhibit
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The beautiful cat quilt – the group work
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The dragon and fire quilt – the other group work

 

Wednesday was another night out with the Arts where I have a job of interviewing the kids for a newsletter article about the joys of the Arts Focus program. A program entirely run by parent volunteers who teach in the classroom for 12 weeks of the year – with an exhibition in between each one. A totally immersive hands-on experience with art that the kids absolutely adore. I am so happy to be a part of the team and teach the kids sewing. This program has inspired me to do my Degree in Teaching for when we return to Australia, though I have less than 4 years or so to completion. I am enjoying the classes, and it is quite exciting to use what I have experienced and bring it to my lessons. I am learning so much new information, and I love it. Now back to writing my World of Maths essay about ‘How Constructivism is the best way to teach math.’

We are a community

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Last week was the final week of our Arts Focus classes at our school, it is always a fun ride for the 12 weeks of the year with the art show after the first session of 6 weeks. Following on is the second six-week session, and the art show will be on view at City Hall beginning next week. I have my class of 26 kids artwork on show, and this time I managed to get a broad range of pieces from hats, fabric collages, pipe cleaner dolls, embroidery, Felt LED cuffs and Felt Animals. The quilts are just beautiful with is super cool cat fabric and a dragon quilt as well – thanks to the parent volunteers of the sewing team who choose and sew up the quilts for this session. The quilt will be offered for bids at the Silent Auction to the parents of the kiddos who were in the sewing class.

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I always enjoy what the kids create, and this time we had some extra time, and they could make another project focussing on their stitch work and embellishing. The hat and the bunny were created by kindergarten children who used their stitches in an interesting way. The bear in the centre pic is made by a 2nd grader who took great pride in her work. I love to see anyone enjoying the needle arts and to see kids stretch themselves by experimenting is such a joyful experience!

Speaking of seeing experimental needle arts in action…  Monday I taught a sewing workshop at the Mountain View Public Library on making a small purse from repurposed interior design fabric from FabMo. The fun part is always seeing what fabrics people choose for the purses – this project only needed 3 pieces. I like to see how people matched or mismatched their fabric to get the desired effect. I have worked with these fabrics for a long time, and it took me ages to feel free working with a tonal collection of fabrics or even just mixing the patterns. The class was 12 adults and about a quarter of the class completed the project in the 1.5-hour class – a lot of time was spent deliberating on the fabric choice! Still, once it is on the sewing machine, this project is a breeze.

I will leave this week with my International Women’s day, A day without a woman picture. The Pussyhat project wanted to see some hats up on their website for the day, so I found my rainbow and pink pussyhat. To go with the rainbow theme, I found this delightful picture my daughter made for me years ago with rainbows and black crows. It seemed relevant for the moment showing that no matter how many black crows (or darkness) is on the horizon there is always love and rainbows. I enjoy being part of a community be it at the library or my school, and we work together for the common good of all – now and always. Peace xo

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Serendipity

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Happenstance – serendipity, all those wonderful unexplainable events that happen in your life that generally are good intentions. This is what happened with this skirt as I happened to take a break from essay writing this week to fix a pair of pants. When I am with my new sewing machine, it starts to take me on a bit a creative ride, and as I am just sitting next to it writing assessments at the moment, it was a great excuse to make something. So I went through my basket of unfinished objects and found the top of a pair of jeans that I was going to make into a bag. I love those bags, but unfortunately, even though they were such a novelty they made a great talking point at craft fairs, though no one was very keen to purchase one – live and learn on that one! Anyhow this skirt came to be via a pair of old jeans and an unfinished skirt I made for Missy when she was a baby?!? I like how it has turned out, but the problem with this is that it is a little big still it was the joy of making something that made me happy yesterday!

What other joy and happiness came to me this week? Tuesday I was teaching at the local library my usual monthly event started up for this year – we will be doing the last class in June and starting up again after the summer. This month is a Valentine craft, and we made felt heart pins from a bunch of buttons, trim and embroidery floss. The tutorial is here on this site if you would like to make one of your own. What the world needs now is love so it was a perfect craft to do and everyone was very creative with their hearts and most of the class of 14 made 2 each. Next month we will be making a clutch from repurposed 8″ squares of interior design fabric – gotta start writing the tutorial soon!

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I also was very lucky to be looking after my friend’s cat for the weekend this little black guy is such a love bug and really appreciated the pats and the company when his humans were away. Any excuse to be with animals for me at the moment, they are so loving!

And another wonderful random act of happenstance happened on Friday when I rewarded myself a trip downtown to Oren’s Hummus Shop for lunch with a friend who I hardly see anymore because she is studying too! I love the falafel there, and the hummus is so creamy and delicious. Afterwards, we were so full we went for a wander downtown and went to City Hall to check out this inspiring CSMA (Community School of Music and Art) Art Exhibit. The classes are taught by CSMA teachers in local schools including our school. The work from our 5th-grade class was artwork inspired by human rights and boy they were powerful! The art teacher created the watercolour with the V to discuss tenants rights here in our own city. The ‘Measure V’ bill for rent stabilisation, is still under contention (the latest news it is being challenged by landlord advocates!) FYI the rent here is already way above market rate, and still, they want more!! I have lost many friends who have moved out of the area because it is so expensive to live here yes close to $2,000 for a 650 square foot, 1 bedroom apartment per month – insane!

Sorry, I digress… anyway my friend, and I was really inspired by the artwork by the children at City Hall and how powerful art can be in the classroom for reflecting on what is going on in the world. My favourite piece is this white woven wall hanging with the many textures, I am a textile lover, that I might have to get my yarn and roving out and make one in colour! We will see as I have many other things to do in the meantime… including studying for my maths and literacy exam for my teaching degree!!

Pacific North West Festivities

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We decided at the last minute to apply for a house sit up in Washington State for the holidays – we submitted as a family and the owner of the house was happy for us to come up to the island and look after her 3 cats for 10 days. We had no idea where this island was and the logistics have been a bit tricky as we had to meet up on Saturday for a tour of the house and how to care for the cats. Everything happened so quickly and we managed to book our flights in time and book an Air BnB in Seattle for the night before to catch up with our friends for dinner. As we travelled to Whidbey Island at the northern boundary of Puget Sound on Saturday morning we saw some snow and as we travelled further north there was more snow and we drove onto the ferry and landed on the island to being snowed on! What an experience driving in snow in a small little hire car, thank goodness we made it to the house and were warm and toasty to watch the end of the snowfall from safely inside our house sit.

Last Tuesday was the final workshop at the library for the Sew Sew with FabMo and we made Christmas decorations with felt and FabMo fabric. It is a fun little hand sewing project with various levels of skills in sewing which I always love. We had beginners who made tried sewing for the first time to a European contingent who were very skilled with a needle and made their own creatures including a hedgehog. I highly recommend coming to check this out if you would like to make your own decorations for friends or family and want to start sewing with a small project.

Wednesday I had a lunch date with a friend of mine who has just started a job at Stanford. I promised we would get together for some art lunch dates while she is working there so it was the perfect time to head on down to see the Nick Cave sound suit exhibit. We had been to the De Young and that is where I saw my first Nick Cave sound suit and I had to ask my friend this isn’t Nick Cave from the Bad Seeds fame. Lucky she knew and put me in the right direction, since then I have been researching these wonderful sound suits and the choreography with the suits and I really love them and the stories behind each suit. I am totally drawn to them as they are so textile focused and that is my love.

What I really enjoyed is the detail of each suit – as you can see in these pics there are lots and lots of buttons sewn onto the fabric as are pieces of knitted fabric pieces with a little-stuffed toy in between. The brushed wire is amazing in real life.

As a family activity, this is wonderful with a felt wall so you can decorate the sound suits as well as a caravan out the front of the gallery to design your own sound suit – the interactivity for the kids would make it a great winter activity for the school holidays.

If you have already had lunch a wander down to the Arizona Cactus garden is a fun thing to do with an amazing collection of cactus and succulents. I just love succulents so I was in plant heaven checking this out – the light was overcast and perfect for photographs as there were no shadows. The parking is $1.25 for 30 minutes so I would recommend a couple of hours max and then finding somewhere to eat close by or even head on back home if you are a local.

While I was near the cactus garden there is a mausoleum for the Stanford family and right next to them a sculpture of the family with these icons beneath them on how they envisaged the university for their son who passed away at 15 years old from typhoid. The Stanford family then wanted to educate all the children of California, they had some grand plans for the time and their sense of education was pioneering. I really liked seeing crafts, science and art as part of their vision.

On Friday and we made our way to the airport to fly to Seattle – we stayed the night in an Air BnB and visited our friends who live close by for dinner. We had a tasty dinner of Thai food and we walked from their house to the downtown for ice cream?!? Yes, ice cream in winter – there are 3 ice cream shops within a block of our friend’s house. We went to this place called the Nutty Squirrel and I enjoyed an amazing combination of Olive oil and Clementine on a cold winters night. After ice cream we went to our friend’s neighbours house for a nice glass of red wine – I am loving the Pacific North West.

 

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Finding the coffee shop in the snow
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Finally found a latte to keep us warm
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Getting snowed on and eating snow flakes
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Beautiful blown glass baubles from the studio in Langley

 

Saturday we made our way up to the island with no idea that we were going to be travelling in the snow. As we headed up north on the I-5 the snow was coming down and by the time we made it to the ferry, there was a blanket of snow on the ground. We drove onto the ferry and sat in the car for the 30-minute ride and off we went on the island to find a coffee shop to enjoy a snack before we drove up to the house. The Useless Bay Coffee Shop in Langley was recommended to us and it was a real local hangout with excellent service and food. After our snack we made it out to the snowfall and had to drive a hire car in the snow – what a scary experience. The drive to the house had a few hills and with the power of the universe, we made it to the house with no chains on the tyres and the car riding a rollercoaster ride on the snow.

With a sigh or relief, we found the house with the driveway covered in snow – I had to quickly text the owner to let us know which garage to enter in as it would be so hard to move the car out in the snow. We had only met via email so to meet each other in person finally was so good. We toured the house and checked out where the kitties hide and here we are, enjoying a quiet, relaxing break away from everything.

There are 3 kitties to look after at this house with an older cat called Spike living in the house and he really loves brushing. He is used to us now and loves to get brushes whenever he comes out from his resting spot. The other two kitties live in a barn as professional rat catchers. They have their own little room with a heater and lots of cat toys and even a chair to hang out with them for pats. They are Artemis and Apollo and enjoy our visits to give them some snacks in their cat hangout room.

Today in 5-degree celsius weather I took a wander through the orchard to see if I could find any apples on the trees, there was just one with other little ones who are just hanging on. The owner of the house gave us some cider from these orchards and we had some mulling spices to make a delicious mulled cider and so our festive season began.

 

A piece a Week – A Tea Cozy for the Downton Abbey final

Getting motivated to fit in my special volunteer projects can be very tricky with my schedule. Last weekend I worked on a wrap tea cozy for the Downton Abbey final happening next week on PBS! In getting ready to say farewell to one of my favorite shows I have been listening to the podcast with behind the scenes interviews. 
With the celebration of the final, the library staff and I thought it would be nice for the Sew Sew with FabMo class to make their own tea cozy. This class is scheduled after the final but still it always nice to have a warm pot of tea in the evenings – I will have to give it a try. On March 13th at 2pm on a Sunday afternoon the library is having a Downton Abbey tea party at the Community Room, so if you are a local and enjoy Downton this is the place for you! 
For this tea cozy I used FabMo Interior Design fabric for the exterior and a quilting cotton scrap for the inside. Soon I will post a tutorial for this, definitely before the class on March 15th!
Fancy a cuppa love?
With the Spring weather at the moment we are taking advantage of the sunshine and hiking the amazing trails around us. We revisited a trail from 2007 the Wunderlich Park trail in San Mateo. We walked uphill to this beautiful meadow and then back down again to the carpark a grand total of over 4.5 miles (around 7km). When we visited this trail in 2007 we had to carry a 1 year old now it is so much easier with our 10 year old and 7 year old using their own legs and keeping their own pace. Once we reached the meadow from the Bear Gulch Trail which is around 1.5 miles from the sign near the carpark, we stopped there for a snack and time to roll down the green hills, it felt like we were in the The Sound of Music surrounded by all the green.

Playing on the meadow

The view from the sign

Part 2 of the above shot!

This hike is interesting with the flats of Redwood forest in between the woods that include eucalyptus, manzanita and oak. The kids enjoyed the Redwoods that had been hollowed out by fire creating little caves to explore and hide in.

A dancing tree

Hiding in a Redwood

Sunshine in the eucalyptus grove

Nice big hole from an amazing old redwood

The mountain goat in action with a hiking stick

After our hike in the lovely weather and lunch at this great little El Salvadorian cafe in Redwood City we dashed home made a lovely Kale, Chickpea and Cous Cous salad for the Cub Scouts Blue and Gold dinner. The dinner marks the transition of the boys to their next level to Boy Scouts. For Ash it was his final destination – the Arrow of Light. He had to cross the bridge below marking the final year of cub scouts – unfortunately he is not wanting to continue, it is his decision. I think it is something he has enjoyed with his friends and now that middle school is around the corner who knows what activities will take its place.

Take this bridge to cross to Boy Scouts

Watch my arrow fly! 

Yay I have my arrow now and all is done!!

The Salad for the potluck- there is usually never enough salads at a potluck!

Kale, Chickpea, Beech Mushroom and Couscous Salad

Ingredients


1 cup Israeli cous cous

Beech Mushrooms from the CSA box

1 cup of Chickpeas (Garbanzo Beans) soaked overnight and cooked in the pressure cooker

Za’atar (see this site here) or you can buy it at Penzeys

Curly Kale with Sesame oil

Preserved Lemon to taste – finely chopped

Spring Onions and Parsley to finish

Get to it…

1. Cook couscous by boiling 1.5 cups of water and adding the 1 cup of couscous. Take off the stove and leave the lid on the saucepan for the couscous to steam and absorb the water – takes about 10-15 mins. Then use a fork to separate. 

2. Prepare the kale by pulling it off the stem and making small pieces in a large salad bowl add a touch of sesame oil and massage through the leaves and leave to soften and marinate. 

3. While the couscous is doing its thing cook the beech mushrooms in an iron skillet with a little bit of olive oil – watch them and enjoy their smell – be careful not to burn them. 

4. Take the mushrooms from the pan and place them in a bowl. Take the prepared drained chickpeas and add them to the skillet with some olive oil and add Za’atar to taste. 

5. By this time the cous cous is ready make sure you have separated the cous cous then add it to the bowl of kale. Take the cooked chickpeas and add them with the finely chopped preserved lemon. Use tongs to mix it all together and top with spring onions and parsley and serve it family style. 

A piece a week – Ceramics out of the Kiln

This week I finally made it an Open Studio Pottery Session for 4 hours. I figured this week is going to be super busy so why not take some time out and make some bowls. As I was there I found 5 of my bowls had come out of the kiln. I was experimenting with wax resist and the glaze that made it easy to find the bowls I had made though the look was OK and would be way better if I take it an extra step and work out how this whole process works 🙂 Still it was fun and the colours that came out were very interesting combinations and I love how the glazes react with each other too – a couple of my favorites are in the close up shots. 
A bunch of bowls working away in the kitchen
A favorite combination of colors
Another favorite though this is a matte and gloss glaze combo

A close up of the wax resist
Tuesday night it was Sew Sew with FabMo at the Mountain View Library and here is one of the attendees with her Infinity scarf. We had 12 people who came to the workshop and we could have used another 3 sewing machines as there was a bit of waiting around. Still it gave people time to discuss the steps to be organized once it was time for them to go on the machine. It was a pretty easy project that everyone enjoyed! 
Finished scarf out into the night

At the library some promo material – time for me to start the next months project!

Thursday it was Arts Focus with the kids at school and we made stuffed animals – here is a little one made with some beautiful stitches – I am looking forward to seeing how these animals turn out as the kids really love this project!

A little red elephant!

Friday was a night out at the museum and we went behind the Project Lab to peek at a small amount of the Academy’s gem collection – I love seeing gems in their raw form and these were presented beautifully. Hopefully they will have a show in the future!

Love the colours of these stones

Sunday was a family bike ride before heading over to the theater to see Annie in the afternoon – it was such a lovely morning for a ride and here we are at the end of the road looking over the water! We rode about 8 miles at a steady pace which accounts for some exercise 🙂

On the jetty!

I love my bike! 

Checking out the stinky shoreline!