Spring Breaking

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We all had a lovely spring break the kids and I. It all started with completing my paper for Uni, and once that was done I had a bit of a breather with hanging out with the kids. Monday I drove them to the farm to do the chicken chores. It was such a beautiful day to be hanging with the chickens, they loved the outside sunshine and snacks with the humans. This Buff Orphington chook is one big lady, she is all feathers and such a sweetie! You can see Snowflake the white chicken on the ground, she was adopted by one of the kids in the 4H chicken project as someone left her at the farm?! She is another lovely lady. While we were hanging with the kids and the chickens in the spring sunshine, we even had our friends from San Jose visit and drop off my son after a sleepover.


After an intense study period, I like to craft and as I had not switched out my entryway decorations since the last holiday I wanted to bring in something fun to my new garden bell addition. I made pom poms after I found this cool neon yarn and I added it to an embroidery hoop without its buddy so here is the undersea background for the whale. I am now crocheting a blanket which is a lot of fun as I have not crocheted in ages. It all started with a granny square YouTube video when I was kicked out of the lounge room as Missy was playing the Switch and watching Netflix (a cooking show!) with her friends for a girls sleepover.


Thursday I went in search of a mysterious flat white coffee as an Aussie friend of mine told me about a place downtown Mountain View that had decent coffee. You see, I stopped drinking coffee 12 years ago when I moved here as the only well-made coffee I could find was at Dana Street Cafe (an Aussie barista made a kick-ass flat white). It was inconsistent as she was not always working plus I was not hanging out at the coffee shop with a baby. So after a while, it was no more coffee for me which turned out to be a good thing as I became a kombucha fan down the track…. but that is another story! Anyway, this coffee shop downtown is called 1oz coffee, and it was a super cool cafe to hang out sans the nerds! Actually, there is one in the background! Well, it seems to me that this is a place to come and drink coffee and snack out with friends (delicious pastries from Alexanders down the road, plus Rx date bars and big cookies) rather than sit on your machine all day with that one cup of coffee.

After the coffee (see the super cute flat white) I took the kids to look at the caterpillars outside the Mountain View Library. These caterpillars were everywhere, they will one day become the Tussock Moth when they transform. They were all over the sculptures outside the library, and the kids really enjoyed finding them in bunches all going somewhere? The library is always the best place to hang out over break even though there is a remodel happening and the kid’s book selection is minimal. The kids will still come out with a bag full of books especially when they have been banned from the computer for the break! It worked out well as we would have family game time playing Mario Cart and the kids could track my progress and give me high 5s whenever I was in the top 10 – yay!


The bonus of being off all week was that pretty much every day we would go to the park and hang out with our neighbours! The kids would climb the trees and look for critters and even bring them home to live in a shoebox. The adults would knit on the blanket and drink wine, not long till summer and we can do that all the time!!

I also had the opportunity to deep clean my house to get rid of 3 boxes of books, clean out the kitchen and kids room to sell at the upcoming citywide garage (yard) sale on the 5th May weekend. And after that it will be time to donate everything, it will feel so good to get rid of stuff though we still need to move some more stuff if we have another year or so it is hard for me to donate all the yarn! I did give a local maker space lots of craft materials, and that felt good. Most of my little yarn balls are going to my big granny square blanket that will tell the story of the many pieces I made in the time I have been knitting which is around 12 years that is since I was pregnant with Ash, man time flies when you are having fun!

Secret Yurt Camping in the SF Bay Area


Spring Break last week and we managed to literally get away from the crowds and be the only people camping in a Yurt in a location just over 1 hour away from our house! Now as I write this it seems impossible to get away from ALL the people in the Bay Area because where ever you go within an hour or so from your home there is usually many more Bay Area folks camping or doing whatever within your vicinity.  Never in our camping experiences, have we gone away especially during a break from school and been by ourselves! Just to have that experience was incredible so before I spill the location be sure that you don’t mind setting up camp next to a graveyard on an abandoned Naval Base!

This beautiful part of the Bay area was in Vallejo on a peninsula called Mare Island named after the white mare who swam to shore after her ship was sunk. It is a place of beauty and solitude with the added bonus of yurt camping with all the gear supplied including a gas grill and a super clean porta potty close by.  The view from the top of the island is of 7 counties surrounding the island and right by the lookout is an art installation called the Spirit Ship in honour of the Naval families who once lived here. Spring brings the beautiful poppies, and the smell of wild fennel was in the air.

Surrounding the Mare Island Preserve are barbed wire fences – man I thought I was in a detention centre in Australia when I saw these familiar eucalyptus trees. But no, looking through the fence I found abandoned houses and buildings still needed to be cleared up by the US Federal Government due to munitions being left behind – I imagine that is a huge task and they have better things to focus on at the moment!

Wandering through the preserve right by the graveyard are some beautiful roses right in bloom for spring and for the two days I loved taking pictures of them in the different light. The graveyard was so peaceful and so old – graves dating back to 1856, this is the oldest Naval cemetery on the West Coast.


My hubby and I wandered to the top of the hill of the afternoon we arrived – the kids get a bit mad about walking up hills, but we know better. The bonus when you climb a hill is always the view, and this panorama is what I saw when I was up there, surrounded by water most of the way with land on the horizon.


Yurt party with Pusheen
Old Tennis Court Yurt


Then we came back down to set up the Yurt for the evening. This yurt is made by a local Vallejo yurt maker Yurtastic, and he used billboard fabric for the exterior, roof and floor. What an excellent idea, the light is bright inside, and we had Dory on the floor from Finding Nemo.

Oh, and did I mention the views from the top of the hill, the Spirit Ship in panorama with the detail of the floor beneath the Spirit Ship with nature growing up around it.

Dinner was homemade lentil rolls we heated up on the gas grill – it acted just like an oven! On the side, we had watermelon radish and ate by the candle light of a citronella candle as there were quite a few mozzies though they did not bother us that much.


Messy Missy in the truck
The Spirit Ship at Sunset
Inside the Yurt at night – complete with fairy lights


In the evening our lovely host Myrna took us for a spin with her dog Nitro down to the bunkers. We sat in the back of the truck and saw this island in the light of dusk with the beautiful colours all around. Myrna was the best and so thoughtful with her organisation for the yurt supplies in the outdoor kitchen including an outdoor screened tent, so we were mozzie free. Nitro was the sweetest dog who loved pats and was ever so friendly with all of us, we had such a fun time together.

The next day was Thursday, and we were on our own on after a night of rain over the yurt we thought our riding plans were busted but no, the sun came out, and we borrowed bikes – yes bikes were included in the trip! So we went riding to look for the entrance to the San Pablo Bay Trail entrance and back again. The visitor centre was a place full of Mare Island history including treasures from one of the original residents who grew up on the base and donated her doll and Kanga and Roo from her collection. The other bonus of the visitor centre apart from its massive size is the resident cat Linus, who reminded me so much of my little buddy Macaroni. This guy loved pats and would come up and purr near us, and we happily patted him and gave him love.

The island is full of eucalyptus trees, and after the rain, it smelled of Australia – like I was home. Wild is where nature is at here in this part of the bay with the poppies growing in between the railway tracks. And the kids enjoyed having stick fights with the wild fennel, and that kept them occupied as I wandered the graveyard to see what history this place held. As we were interested in seeing the birds, Myrna loaned us her binoculars so we could watch the baby osprey and the osprey who nests there. This is the view I had through the binoculars to observe the baby birds way up high. We also saw snowy egrets, blue jays, wild turkeys and turkey vultures who call this place home. In the evening we heard the sound of the coyote talking and yipping to each other, lucky we were tucked away in our beds in the Yurt.


The outdoor kitchen setup
The lovely Linus the cat
At the visitor centre
By the campfire


We had one last visit to the visitor centre and an evening by the campfire (there are no other places on the island where a campfire is allowed as it dangerous) with Myrna and Eric (another volunteer who shared so much interesting information on photography and nature). We washed the dishes and lay cleaned them and packed them away neatly and off we went to see Linus and the ephemera at the visitor centre. The collection of teacups was beautiful and the evening before Myrna and I shared a pot of rooibos tea in a cup and saucer – very fancy! The fire was perfect for our marshmallows, and we enjoyed learning about the history of Mare Island and its inhabitants.


Soon it was time to leave, and the preserve was open to the public, we wandered down to check out the bunkers the view and got this great picture of all of us in the massive bunker (built during the mid-1920s to store munition). The bunker we checked out had astroturf on the ground and digital print of the first cave painting from Lascaux, France. A bunch of folks had a caveman dinner in the bunkers which explains the paleo inspiration.


And there is Dory on the floor – we were so happy to enjoy our couple of nights getaway from it all. If you are keen to check it out and visit Myrna and Nitro the dog, go to Hipcamp where you can find this yurt and the other romantic yurt for two further up the hill. If your camping party is big just camp in the bunker and watch the sun rise, so many options to camp and support the Mare Island Shoreline Heritage Preserve.

On our way back the sun was shining I took some pictures of the beautiful chapel with its Tiffany windows – you can visit the church with a guided tour which is $5, the kids were done, but I would have loved to have seen them. On the way home, we opted for a walk just below Mt Diablo in a place called Shell Ridge Open Space Preserve where we found a ranch complete with chickens and a sleepy rooster. It felt we were away from civilisation for longer than two days, now that is what I call a break from it all!

Back to study for me as I have an essay tomorrow and Assessment 2 is just around the corner!

A piece a week – A craft organizer made from Jeans & Spring break fun/food plus artwork for the school play, yay!

We had no plans on Spring Break except to hang around and catch up with friends. It was excellent to just run errands and chill out for the rest of the day. Currently I am in Spring cleaning mode 😀 Which is a good thing! I have been reading about clearing clutter and throwing away your stuff but it is just not very motivating to go through absolutely everything… So I chose a few spaces that I enjoy being in and want to keep them tidy and free from clutter – well let me tell you, with kiddos that is a hard task to keep spaces in shape!! 
My craft room needed a major clean out so I got to that room (after the kids room) and decided that my projects needed to be near my machines and in easy access or they may get fur all over them by the kitties, as anything is a target for my two cats – one sheds more than the other. Any fabric that is wool is like a magnet for fur – there’s a scarf in one on the pockets of this organizer that I need to complete that has the furry treatment all over it, even the cats create work for me!!  
So to make this lovely organizer I used a pair of my husbands old jeans and cut off a leg and folded the top down and added FabMo fabric samples under the back pocket! Next time I am looking for my next project – there they are waiting in the queue on the wall…
The organizer made from an old pair of jeans and some FabMo samples
The week went by really fast and we enjoyed some sleeping in and going down the park, going to the library, catching up with friends and eating out (this is a treat for us!) I even took the kids on a car service trip to Subaru, San Jose and we went to Santana Row for a bit of shopping – everything is high end there except places for fast fashion like H&M (excellent for the kiddos clothes and shoes) and this cute little Japanese store the kids really enjoyed with me! Of course I love Anthropologie to check out the fabrics and dresses. It was a fun day out and we went to my new fave vegetarian place Veggie Grill. This is the Tres ‘fish’ tacos – yes fake fish but yummy nonetheless and perfect for lunch with the kids. Their kids menu was yum too with veggie burgers and mac and cheese with nutritional yeast for extra flavour.
Tres ‘fish” tacos and jalapeno green salad 
And another lovely feast we had at Yam Leaf Bistro in Mountain View – this is an $8 lunch and everything here is vegetarian too which I love! Oh and their Pupusas and horchata are delicious and filling, ever since I tried them at El Calderon (their previous entity) I still love them except the horchata is not served in a hollowed out gourd anymore 😦
The Salvadorian Style Tostada

Park play was a lot of fun in the afternoons and we visited a friend in Sunnyvale at their local park Las Palmas. This park has always been a favorite of mine and now it has been renovated the kids love it. There is this huge volcano climbing structure and slide and statues from Easter Island that are in the pond. As you can see the kids enjoyed being in the pond with their scooters. Though due to water restrictions at the moment there is no pond – this is a collection of rain water from the small downfall overnight.

Scooting through the water!

Friday I had my first wheel throwing class through the city of Sunnyvale – it was so exciting to be in a pottery studio with 3 huge kilns and lots of pottery wheels overlooking a lake with fake swans. My teacher walked me through the space and told me where everything was and the processes. Man it is going to be a huge learning curve for me but I am loving it, the challenge of it all is so stimulating and I cannot wait to go back this Friday. The kiddos were at gymnastics camp for the day and they had a great time too! Afterwards we went down to the park and the kids made art with chalk, flowers and leaves.

Missy creating her masterpiece

I volunteered for doing the art for the school play as Missy is in it this year, every parent has to help behind the scenes. As my life before kids was a graphic designer this should be a super fun gig! My brief for the school play was Alice in Wonderland meets Steampunk so I had to design graphics for the program and the tee shirt – I love playing in Illustrator and here are the finished pieces. And I got the OK from our Director today – yay!!

A piece a week – A painting for Spring Break

My plan for the kids spring break was to relax and do a bunch of art activities… instead of art activities  there were activities mostly outside catching up with friends at Shroup Park, Picchetti Ranch, Cantor Arts and Rancho San Antonio – the weather was superb! That was pretty much a trip out every day plus time at our local park to play too! The only art activity we did manage to do was when we had a couple of hours spare before we went out to the Cantor Arts Center at Stanford.

I had a plan as the week before I went to see the Georgia O’Keefe exhibition on Friday for my birthday with my hubby and was inspired to get some creative exercises happening with the kiddos. I had found a couple of photographs and the kids chose one to use in the paintings. The idea was to paint the whole canvas and paint everything big! Well, as it turned out both kids enjoyed the tulip element and incorporated it into their painting in a big landscape. So this is what I have now on the walls of my stairwell.

My painting from the picture

My daughters interpretation

My sons interpretation – adding a Minecraft creeper underground

Our paintings together!

It was a lot of fun and was completed in a couple of hours and we were out in time for when the Cantor Arts Museum opened. The fun thing about the museum is that when we arrived the lady at the front desk asked the kids if they wanted an art pack! I had no idea that they encouraged the kiddos to have a fun time drawing while they were observing art so that was an added bonus to our morning out. The kids were going to each room and finding a piece of art that they would draw and focus on, it was so much fun to watch them too while I was enjoying the art myself. At the end of our trip through the Cantor, the kids received card stock mount boards for their artwork to put on their wall at home and of course they could not wait to hang their drawings up!

Checking out Sequence by Richard Serra
My favorite place in the Cantor – the Native American arts

The Cantor to me was the highlight of the week though we had a lot of fun at Shroup Park, Picchetti Ranch and Rancho San Antonio. The trip to Deer Hollow farm is always a pleasure and this time with the spring babies it was even more so!

A baby lamb out on the pasture
The neighbors and my kiddos in the tree hollow at Rancho San Antonio