New chapters = New Beginnings

 

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Back in the bay and the countdown has begun to the start of school for the year – everyone is pretty happy to go back! We have only 4 days to go, and for me, it is 3 as I start a new job as a Teacher Assistant on Friday with Orientation – how exciting as I have not worked full time for about 9 years!

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Since coming back I have enjoyed Granita cocktails with lemon verbena from my neighbours garden and watermelon from my CSA box, absolutely incredible. I made cocktails at a friends house the other night for dinner, and we had mixed melon and mint with lemon and Hangar 1 vodka, just the perfect drink for a tasty Indian meal! Oh I have to mention the inspiration for Granita was from Melbourne from an Italian coffee house called Pellegrini’s where every Friday they made fresh gnocchi and served it with watermelon granita, it was such a treat!

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I have loved being back on my bike and getting around the trails I opted for a 7.5-mile ride down the trail early on a Saturday morning and it was just perfect. Smooth riding, flowers in bloom and many bridges to cross.

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I have been really enjoying the colours in nature and coming back after spending a month in a dramatic winter scape it is beautiful to see everything in bloom and so alive!

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Sometimes I feel like this little guy trapped in its razor wire with one step forward and many steps back with the amount of work I have to get through with University and now planning for a full-time job plus volunteering and taking care of the household. One thing at a time from my list and eventually I get through, and there is more work. Still, it will make the time fly by, before I know it plans will be underway for our house in Oz.

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We had an enjoyable hike with our friends from Oakland on Sunday at the halfway meeting point in Pacifica and found this super cool County Park with many eucalyptus trees. There were so many and it was just like being home in Australia. That could be one of the many reasons how I have managed to be here so long, being amongst native trees and enjoying their energy. This tree was just spectacular as it was gigantic, growing like an oak tree with its massive supportive trunk in the centre.

There was so much fog that morning, and it enlivened the trees formations. We walked up and down for around 5 miles, and it was refreshing for all of us with some lovely views along the way. The trees were my favourite as we wandered through the many different landscapes.

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The kids were very excited to have found some sibling lizards on the hike and caught them for a bit of play – you can just see them on Ash’s finger sitting together. The bonus was the cafe at the bottom of the hill from the park was Beach Monkey Organic Cafe had tasty food for all of us including delicious Acai bowls!

Not long to go until life changes gear and I start a new chapter of my life for the next 6 months, it is something to look forward to and a super opportunity to engage in for my education degree.

The views from up high!

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Finally, I had a free weekend to relax with friends and the family as I have finished my essay writing at the moment, so it’s time to catch up on my To Do list! The weekend was absolutely stunning with its sunshine and warmth – not enough to take off your cardigan yet, though! I spent time hanging out down at the park knitting with my friend and the kids created a tree sculpture in the sandpit dedicated to the environment entitled ‘Protect the Trees’. They kept on finding pieces of foliage and rocks and twigs around the park to add to their group installation.

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Sunday being our family day we went out for a hike up to Sierra Azul Preserve in Los Gatos. Another hike we haven’t visited in our 10 years of living here. Little did we know what to expect once we started hiking…

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Look for the hangar in the centre of the pic, and we find our house

 

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A perfect place for a picnic or to camp – though you would have to haul it up here!
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A dragon cloud
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Walking in the woods

 

 

We ended up hiking 4.5 miles up the hill as you can see from the pictures we were looking over the whole valley from where we were from Palo Alto to San Jose. The urban sprawl at its finest on this beautiful and bright day. It was a great hike for exercise walking for miles uphill though the kids constantly wanted to stop!

 

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“No!! We can’t walk another step!!”
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“This is boring, my legs are tired,” say the kids!

 

It was too hard for them to walk up and up and up. In the end, we decided to walk to the oak tree on the trail which was 2.25 miles, and from there the kids were a bit annoyed as it really was not that exciting for them to see the oak tree.

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The good thing was that once the hike was done and we saw the tree we went back downhill – it is hard on your legs and knees. I would totally recommend this hike for a family who wants a bit more of a workout on a hike as it is all uphill to the top the views are perfect on a bright day, and it is so good to see the valley from up high!!

Oh, and the bonus was that I watched two really wonderful films – Hello my name is Doris and Girl Asleep. Both quirky and a lot of fun. A favourite character was Doris as she was an older lady with such a crazy fashion sense who is cracking onto her co-worker. This leads to some funny scenes and the best being when she joined him for a gig out to see an electro-pop band, that outfit is the best!

Girl Asleep is an Australian film set in the 1970s so I loved the film from the beginning seeing the clothes and the 1970s cars in Australia. My favourite sequence of the film is when Greta had her 15th birthday party and everyone who came danced their way into the room and then it was all on – a scene of dancers at the party, I gave this film 5 stars just for this scene of 1970s dancing!

It’s a sun sunny day!

 

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Enjoying the rays with the family

 

As the rain has been keeping us inside most of the time for the last couple of weeks! Sunday was literally a sunny day so we took full advantage of the morning and went for a wander to explore more of the bay. Over the week a friend of mine told me about a park with amazing views of San Francisco, Oakland and the bay where she volunteers to feed a feral cat colony! I was so excited so we went on a mission to look for it via Seal Point Park and it is right next door to Ryder Park – named after my nephew! It is a dog park with a hill with sweeping views of the Bay all around. Plus the added bonus is that the trail is perfect for riding so one day we will have to catch the Caltrain over there as it is 12 minutes away from the stop – it is a 21-mile bike ride via the Bay trail from Shoreline Park, whew I get sore legs thinking about it!

The pics above are from the top of the hill and looking down onto the sights, like San Francisco on the left behind all the fog. On the right is a pic of some of the sculptures along the trail.

Now, this is what we need more of here where I live super cool looking interactive sculptures. The two discs act like an echo chamber and it’s so good to go in there and sing! This lotus looking sculpture looks like it would spin if it is windy!

 

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A giant pokemon in real life in front of the binoculars
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Attack of the wild fennel
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The San Mateo Bridge and a fishing bridge (the old bridge!)

 

We decided to go and find Project Baycat to see if we could see any cats but unfortunately, they had partied Saturday night and there were no cats to be found. I will just have to go with my friend when she volunteers – I can’t wait! Still, it was a lovely morning to spend with the family in the sunshine.

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A beautiful Hindu statue of Vishu, the protector and preserver of the universe, and when someone places his statue at a particular location, it means they’re asking him to watch over the place and its inhabitants, and to ensure harmony – sweet!

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And did I say planes – all of the planes that come into SFO fly directly overhead so if you are into watching some planes, check out this Seal Point Park right next to Ryder Park – the water park in the summer!

 

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The bearded chicken!

 

And speaking of volunteering – this bearded chicken was left by the farm where our coop is and she has been adopted to our flock! In times like these, giving back at a local level is the best thing. I donated cat food to Project Bay Cat and I am still making pussyhats for my friends who supply the yarn and they donate to a non-profit for the hat. My favourite gig of the week volunteering with the kids and teaching them sewing. It is the best thing to see them create with a needle and thread, and a lot of the time I even learn from them!

 

New Year, New Beginnings

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This is the year 2017 and time for all those resolutions and all that jazz that never manifest. Last year I was supposed to play my ukelele but did I even pick it up and learn one song – no! I love my ukelele and it is so good to own one and I do need to make time to play if only there were more hours in the day, then maybe?

Now it is back to reality and to regular routine… I have my two subjects a week for this teaching period plus 3 assignments to complete in the next 2 weeks so my time is very limited to socialising and the like. I still need to get out and exercise for my mind, so time on my yoga mat and dancing are priorities. I am really enjoying studying and it gives me a sense of purpose and a goal (at the end of a very long tunnel!) My first group assignment is going along well and it was not as hard as I perceived it to be in fact communicating across the world online with different timezones is so do-able, every day it is done in business which makes me wonder why do business folks still have to have face to face contact and jet around the world constantly? Anyway, that is not my worry, I have to get this blog post written and get on with my reading and weekly tasks for this week for my Education degree…

Our new years eve this year was just the four of us enjoying a lovely dinner of DIY pizza, cocktails using Sonoma organic ginger vodka, loganberry liqueur from Whidbey Island distillers and lemon shrub I made over the summer and tonic water – they went down a treat. A collaboration with my hubby where he made the meringue and I decorated the pavlova sans the cream (as I forgot) turned out to be quite the success. It went down a treat and we shared it with our neighbour who also is a fan of Australia – my good friend in Australia said to me the pavlova was super easy to make and she is a Kiwi and it turned out to be so, though he did spend a lot of time with the hand mixer (I hear the Kitchen Aid is the biz!!).

For New Years Day we mixed it up a bit this year and we abandoned the idea of brunching with friends and decided to start the year off with something we have not done in the 10 years we have lived in the Bay Area. Why we have not done this is a complete mystery but as it turned out the 1st day of the year was a perfectly, clear, sunny day to walk the Golden Gate Bridge! Every time we drive over it seems so surreal that we are living here – well we live in the suburbs of San Francisco so it is not like living in a city! Anyway, I will not complain, I do love the sunshine 🙂 To start the year off on something new was a bold move for us and we plan to do many more adventures like this in the time we have left in the United States. That is if my plan works to escape and head on back home!

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The views from the bridge are absolutely spectacular and on a day with zero fog and sunshine, it was just amazing to see what this city has to offer. I loved the views of the bridge walking under it and I loved to admire the incredible engineering. The cables viewed from the walking paths with their curves were to behold and the view of the city just wonderful – it is such a beautiful bridge and a glorious bay it is no wonder that people love living here!

Here is a rare image of my hubby and myself finally in front of the Golden Gate Bridge – we had some time to talk about our future while we were away on vacay. Time alone without children screaming the background or media to distract us – now we know where we both stand it is up to us to take life where we want to go. The future can always be scary so a bit of investigation in the job market and where we are both going in life has to be examined before any big decisions are made! The love locks we found on the Golden Gate are from lovers who have used a lock as a symbol of their love and then thrown away the key – what a sweet gesture, I thought it was for suicide victims whew thank goodness they were not as that would be a lot of unnecessary deaths of couples!

I really enjoyed the light of the day the other day with the bridge and wandering along being together as a family. This holiday has really brought us together and it is so good to see the kids in a relaxed mode and enjoying each others company which is why I captured this pic of the two of them chatting away, they are both growing up so fast! Oh and check out the tunnel we had to travel through to get to the bridge, it is quite the adventure going into a little Hobbit tunnel.

So to new beginnings and how to move along 2017 in such a positive light! I plan to do more photography, ride my bike often (see this ride across the bridge for a bit of a long day of riding!) and bake more – this is a clafoutis that I made from apple and berries and it was divine. It is such a simple recipe I found in Sunset magazine using my Vitamix and oh yes I need to use my blender to make smoothies and all that goodness. Really it is so important to stay positive and full of light in the coming year and be there to support each other – I don’t want to mention here why but I think most people know the doom that exists on the horizon.

A piece a week – A very Happy Birthday to Me!

Last week after the fun of my daughters 8th birthday it was my birthday week beginning with a lovely crepe breakfast with green smoothie on a Monday morning prepared by my family! We went out the Kumino the night before for dinner and as it is my birthday I don’t do any cooking – just catch up on projects to do and relax – hey it is your day so you have to make the most of it! 
So it was time to make away and I wanted to make a special birthday dress – this is a favorite pattern of mine as it can be worn in winter with layers or on it’s own in the summer time. This fabric was found at FabMo and it reminds me of an African tribal fabric so I have added interesting accessories like my scarab beetle earrings and a necklace I made out of tiger’s eye and random beads I inherited. I went out with my friends for my birthday on Friday to a favorite restaurant of mine in Sunnyvale – DishDash, beautiful cocktails and the food is Mediterranean and delicious! So much vegetarian to choose from and fresh flatbread and innovative cocktails is always a winner in my book. 
Get ready to celebrate
It was such a busy week with the school’s open house, PBL and Art show on Wednesday and the Art Show Reception on Thursday night. That the time in between was minimal so I had to quickly cut the dress and work on it in the evenings when I felt I had the energy – completing it with hemming on Friday when I helped take the CSMA art show down at school – whew! Hardly any time to read but my hubby found this dreamy book called Cabin P*rn at the local library – time to set up our future residence in the forest, where is that yurt??
Checking out the Cabins – for our future retirement Air BnB
Celebrating with the Funfetti cake the family made me! 
Here I am with my cat boy – Mack

Just before hitting the restaurant for dinner – I was starving and we had to wait 30 mins to get in!
Oh and another Badass selfie – this one with some wisteria, it smells amazing!

 The weekend was rainy so we went on a bike ride with the Superintendent from our school district and our school principal. Both Dr Rudolph and Ms Westover love riding so it was perfect for them, though not so perfect with the weather. The sprinkles managed to get us wet slowly but surely still it was refreshing and not too cold for riding. We stopped to check out the egret nesting area near Google and enjoyed some chocolate and some snacks for the slow ride back with the kids pace. Riding on the dedicated bike lane was such a treat in itself and if only the city can add more to make cycling safer – I volunteer with Safe Mountain View and with some perseverance we can make it happen!

Riding along in the rain

Love this bike lane crossing at Shoreline

Sunday was adopt a chicken day with the 4H Rolling Hills Poultry Project. As we enjoy getting up early and out and about on the weekends we hit the freeway early and headed over to Half Moon Bay to do some tide pooling – by the time we got there the tide was coming in super fast. Still we found something to do, breathe in the fresh and and go searching for crabs. The day was overcast and you can see the fog in these pics still it wasn’t too cold so we could hang out and enjoy our beach time.

Looking for critters on their little island before the tide came in
Fishing with kelp

Finding baby crabs

We were lucky to find this guy – he quickly skittered away

I always like to take my camera out on the weekends to see what we can find and as the weather was overcast that can be a great opportunity to take some pictures without any shadow so it was an excellent opportunity to take close ups of what I found on the beach. We are at Pillar Point as we went there on a super low tide one year and it was so good. This time we had to make do with the still creatures washed ashore which still are beautiful.

Sea glass AKA a broken coke bottle in the sand, the shells trying to shoo it away

Beautiful seaweed growing on a rock

The colors of the seaweed and shells always are impressive

Sheltering from the winds – a ladybug on a rock

The kids enjoyed picking up the seaweed and exploring the rocks to look for elusive crabs. The snow boots did come in handy though by the end of this the tights and the boots my daughter wore were drenched from walking in the water! Examining the seaweed colors in and out of the water was fascinating for my daughter and then she found a mussel and wanted to open it, I said to her I think it will be happier in the water.

Fly and be free little seaweed

Walking out looking for little critters in small tide pools
Coming back after a wander

Finally after lunch of some local fish and fish tacos at the Princeton Seafood Company – super fresh fish and chips with local fish on the menu. They also had a fish market with super fresh fish ready to go home with you. The cool thing was seeing the boats bring in the fresh live Dungeness crab at $6 a pound – so many crabs going to peoples homes in bags fresh for their dinner.

We met the Poultry project kids at the Half Moon Feed and Fuel to choose our foster chick – Missy chose a Production Red chick that we will be looking after in a couple of weeks. Each child looks after the chicks for a week with all the supplies and the heat lamp to keep them warm – we are looking forward to our time with the chicks.

Chicks ready to be fostered

On our way home we stopped by at the Worlds Rare Plants who came and spoke to the 2nd grade class about their Venus Fly Trap habitat project. Right next door is Highway 92 Succulents – now that was a treat for a succulent collector like me!

Love the colors of this plant now it lives in our place – an Echeveria – gibbiflora

A display of sundews, venus fly traps and pitcher plants by the owner who used to be a landscape architect
Tonight I am teaching this class at the local library, we have 11 signups so it will be fun – I better go get myself prepared and start cutting some fabric. All in all it was a fun week – how do you celebrate with your special day – week – month?