Grateful for all we have

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My exercise and eating well regime have been going really well as my meal plans are simpler now with eating more salads and knowing how to balance it with protein and grains. Tonight’s couscous salad of watercress, raw beets, grated carrots, radish, tomato and my new fave plant protein Beyond Meat “chicken” strips made from soy and pea protein topped with a miso chilli dressing so perfect for a meatless Monday. If I were to go vegan this is a perfect meal, one day I will get there! Still eating seasonal, local and organic adds so much variety to your diet and it is even better to get the vegetables direct from the farm.

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So I went out for Mothers Day celebrations on Saturday rather than Sunday as I am not a fan of crowds or people. I had a study break from my paper and went out for lunch to Terun on California Avenue in Palo Alto and afterwards, I went shoe shopping for my mothers day gift. Oh boy, what a treat to find such comfortable and beautifully made shoes, I saw these on a parent at the school I work at and said, “where do you find them” and she told me! These shoes are handmade in Israel and they are the most comfortable and light shoe to wear, I really had a hard choice choosing so I decided on the blue flats as I am looking for alternative shoes in my shoe collection to take over the Camper shoes that I have loved over the years. I get a feeling that from now on any spare $ I have will be spent on these Jafa shoes, they are the best! I mean the colours of the boots are stunning and that is what I have my eye on in the future 😀

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I enjoyed this vodka cocktail for lunch with beet gnocchi, eggplant balls, a Neapolitan style pizza with pear and gruyere plus a farro dish with calamari – what an amazing feast!

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At work former students of 2nd grade built this portable see-saw at tinkering, it is super cool and I see the kids hang out at recess or during class time for some air time outside. It sways on a PVC pipe and a chunk of wood – superb design.

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This week after a week of being appreciated it was time to be grateful for the wonderful year I have had. At the end of last summer, I began a temporary substitute teacher assistant role which initially was going to be 6 months but carried on for the school year where I got to meet another two lively cohorts of children in Kinder and 1st. I am truly grateful for this opportunity of working alongside some incredible educators. Today I was notified they don’t have a role for me next year so I only have 19 days left in this role until Summer vacation. After that it is a holiday in Australia to visit family and friends and then back here for one more year of student mama life and organising our move back home, it will surely be exciting!

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I usually go walking every week around the neighbourhood and it has been beautiful lately with all the spring flowers everywhere, I especially love the orange California poppies. This beauty is growing from a succulent and it is super tall and so pink it catches my eye each time I walk past – I managed to capture this in the evening light the other day, early morning would be best I think!

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Oh, and as I was cleaning out the classroom of library books to return I found this inspiring story and did a read aloud to the kinder kids. It is a story of Julia Butterfly Hill who lived in a redwood for over 2 years to see it preserved for all time. It was such an inspiring story inspired from the novel which I have to get my hands on sometime to ready over the summer I think! Which brings me to the Tarkine in Tasmania – a place where I visited many moons ago with The Wilderness Society. Patagonia has made a film about giving this incredible forest sanctuary for all time World Heritage Protection. Heres to making that happen as I really would love to take my children there when we go home as it is such an experience for them to visit an ancient rainforest where you feel so small.

Stepping into the New Year

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The first week back got off to a good start with a package arriving from Australia from my sister with some super cool prezzos for the kids and the best surprise of all a pair of shoes from when I was in Grade 9! These shoes are vintage, they were from my mums family – either my nan or aunt which makes them even more special. They are just beautiful and are such a work of art in shoe design, I tried them on, and they were just like a Cinderella slipper way too small and too tight for my now flatter sole feet compared to when I was a youngin! So, for now, I will keep these shoes on show in my house as a piece of art from back in the day to remind me my love of shoes began a very long time ago 😀

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Last week I also began my 2nd half of the school year at my work as a Teacher Assistant at Ventana School covering for a maternity position until the end of the school year. I will be working with two amazing teachers in the Kindergarten and 1st-grade classrooms and I am so happy to be working with the kids too, they are just so sweet. I have forgotten how kids at these ages enjoy hugs and spending time with their teacher and in the classroom. In the Kinder class, one of my favourite things is the light table, and the kids were making up all sorts of wonderful stories with these little glass pebbles. I have to say a Reggio Emilia classroom is certainly a direction I would love to work in for the future.

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For the 1st grade classroom, there are rocks to explore and a glass container of mosses and lichen with lots of twigs and sticks, stones and many natural materials to use for when the children are creating stories. It is amazing what they come up with when you talk to them about what is happening in their creations.

The beautiful bead mobile on the left was created by the parents and the students with their intentions for the school year as a Back to School night activity. In the centre of the class the children created this branch, wire and bead mobile, I just cannot believe that I am working in a place with such an appreciation for nature and exploring – sometimes the serendipity of life takes you in the direction where you are meant to be!

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Going back to work full time for the next few months has also got me thinking about food planning a bit more and tonight I made a broccoli soup from Deborah Madison’s Vegetable Soup book, the base for Vegan Ramen from Minimalist Baker and tonight’s dinner a rice and vegetable casserole. Plus my neighbour who is moving back to her amazing remodelled house has cleared out some jars from IKEA, and they are perfect for stashing a kale, mustard green and watermelon radish salad for the week and these jars fit perfectly in the fridge.

Last week I made this incredible Japanese Pizza Okonomiyaki from 101 Cookbooks as we scored a massive cabbage in our Imperfect Produce box and this is a perfect way to use up all that cabbage (I also have a small experiment of Sauerkraut happening in the dungeon).

So between organising some delicious meals for this week and food prep over the weekend, I wrote my second assignment for this teaching period creating a folio of resources for children with certain behaviours in the classroom. It feels good to have written my draft, and it is due next week, so I had better get into gear and start proofing this before I lose another weekend studying away! Not long now until I start the 3rd assignment which will be a case study in support children’s behaviour – whew, take a breath or two. In another 5 weeks and this subject will be over and I have a break for a couple of weeks. I have to say I am thankful for the Nintendo Switch and Just Dance to get me out of my study room and dancing in the lounge room with my family, it is such a great relase and excellent exercise!

Groove is in the Heart

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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!!

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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!

Portland – a mummy vacay away!

After all the craziness of final weeks school I planned some time away to visit my friend in Portland, Oregon. This is a place where I could move to tomorrow with it’s amazing food and lifestyle. It was such a place of dreams where I could buy vegetarian food with a depth of flavour I had never experienced before, eaten ice cream with strawberry balsamic vinegar and pickled strawberries and eaten sustainable sushi with tasty cocktails as well. I have to say the cocktails have to be some of the best I have tried with local artisan gin called aviator and this incredible ginger liqeur my friend used in the cocktails at home. Well the dream had to end and now I am back to reality with the everyday but my inspiration has been with cooking my daily meals with the hope to replicate something of what Portland has to offer! I have a few pictures of the highlights of my vacay away…

Gonna take you for a ride on a big jet plane…

Natural Selection desserts – the first restaurant I visited in Portland, a vegetarian heaven

Oh yeah – the Portland Naked Bike Ride

Drinking cocktails with my friend – a Linoncello cocktail for me! 

Lobster Ravioli with Marscapone – dreamy!

Super fresh Rice Paper Rolls with a dipping sauce – perfect with the truffle oil fries on the side (I was hungover that day!)

Mother’s in the city – my brunch frittata with feta and olive goodness

An ice cream treat after I had my tattoo below – this is a Salt and Straw combination of flavours

My tattoo from the wonderful tattoo artist Cody at Scapegoat tattoo

A bowl of sustainable sashimi at Bamboo – something sushi fantasies are made of
 
At Portland airport – a fond farewell

My new favourite shoes for the season by FLY London – I love shopping in Portland with no sales tax!