November and all the new things!

I cannot believe it is November already and that Thanksgiving is just around the corner! We will be celebrating in our own way this year and really missing our Thanksgiving get together in Oakland with our good friends. We will have to Facetime with them and share some love.

There were lots of new things happening over the last couple of weeks as my daughter was invited to go ice skating with her class. So, a school friends Dad drove us all to Docklands O’Brien ice rink for the afternoon. It was such a great opportunity to go ice skating! I have roller skated and roller bladed but I have never ice skated. Even when we were in California, we did not get around to it, even though the ice rink was in the next suburb. So my daughter got on the skates and no problem – she was even helping her friends get around. I got on with a very slow start and eventually I felt my balance on the skates and it was so much fun!! We are so looking forward to going ice skating again but at $50 for the two of us, it will only be on special occasions.

I have been volunteering at my daughters primary school to teach sewing to the kids. The art teacher at her school is doing textiles for the last term of school and I am helping out with the kids felt animals. This is what I used to teach the kids when I was in Mountain View California in the parent volunteer led Arts Focus classes. For the kids in years 5/6 we are doing the whole project from scratch where the kids trace their animal onto felt, cut them out, embellish the animal and this week they will be stuffing the animal learning the blanket stitch and whip stitch. It is so good to see how enthusiastic the kids are about the felt animal project. They want to keep the animal for themselves as they did have the option to make them for their prep buddy, instead now that they have practiced their own felt animal they will be given the opportunity to design another smaller one for their buddy.

The other good thing I have been becoming aware of now is the amount of fish that I am not eating. After watching the film Artifishal it has really changed my mind about consuming fish. Not only are fish stocks depleted, the fish farms pollute water, also what I found out on this documentary is that fish hatcheries in America breed fish to be distributed into local rivers where these fish breed with the wild fish. What happens to wild fish is that they become less resilient and disease spreads. This is an interesting site to check out for aquaculture in Australia.

So I have been slowly adding more plant based foods to our meals every day – which means soaking the chick peas, beans and eating lentils – there are so many varieties. There is still goat cheese in my bowls and I am not fully vegan but it is mostly vegetarian we are consuming at the moment. On the left is a couscous BBQ rub baked chick pea bowl with roasted beets and goat cheese. On the right is a deconstructed Japanese hand roll with sushi rice, vegetables, kimchi, and baked Tamari and SMALT BBQ rub tofu topped with Nori and a miso mayo sauce – yummo! Cooking dinner does require a bit of imagination and planning but I am making it work.

The huge excitement for our house is that the carpenters have been real busy and getting the framing in place and the house is starting to take shape even putting the second floor floor joists in as well. When we walked down the alleyway to check out house from the back we saw there was even a wall in place where the laundry and pantry will be. To see all this progress is fantastic and we are surely counting down the days until we move in.

The weather has been crazy here we are out on a balmy 25 degree evening flying the drone at the local park, it was beautiful. But today we have a high of 15 degrees and it is super cold. So the winter coat is still hanging at the front door and the beanie is there too for those cold southerly winds. Have a look at that gorgeous sky, its stunning!

Life balance

Being on break I have taken the opportunity to finally go to the hairdresser and cut all my hair off and get a new hairdo! I found this fabulous stylist Chloe at Cherry Bomb hair in Collingwood. I said that I wanted to cut it all off as I have been eyeing off the lovely short styles on women around Melbourne. In my minds eye I saw a pixie cut but as I do have thick and curly hair, Chloe created this lovely hair style and incredible colour. I like to share the before and after pics as it was time for a change. I am loving it as it is so easy to style in the morning and on my travels to the gym and on my bike.

I have been studying for a maths test which is taking up most of my time and it is interesting the amount of stuff I do not use, that kids still learn in Year 9 maths! Lucky for me, the real world including financial maths and ratios is something I do not have to revise. My revision book is getting quite full with all my reminder notes of various formulas I have not used in forever but I will get there. When I am studying, I see how kids these days can call upon Google for all their knowledge and the greatest saviour for me with maths is Khan academy, as I love the videos and explanations to help me with my mathematical understanding.

Over the weekend I enjoyed this wonderful networking event at Swinburne University in Hawthorn which was an hour away by tram and train from home. It started at 10am so I was gone most of the day and the rest of the fam hung out at home and did errands. It was the first time the online contingent of my University got together and we got to meet fellow students and chat to industry professionals. The highlight was the inspiring keynote presentation by Emma Murray who made us all feel the energy to focus on what matters most in our lives and most of all, how to focus on our studies. I left the day with renewed optimism to study and get through my course and see the finish line!

On Sunday, we enjoyed an afternoon of family time and we went into the city to check out a Mexican festival at Flagstaff gardens. It turned out to be long lines for the food trucks and we were not drinking so we were not keen for the crazy margaritas. So we decided to check out the Queen Vic market and it was so good! We basically went there to scout out some food and I found this Sri Lankan street food vendor who made a Kotthu roti, right there in front of me with this incredible array of ingredients including curry leaves and egg, yummo. They added cheese on top which was probably a bit much for me but the yoghurt mint sauce was the absolute best. It was quite a feast, so I shared it with Ash and my hubby. Making the roti was very noisy indeed but well worth it for the food theatre. These guys are part of the restaurant Drums and are a franchise of 5 locations around Melbourne. They are also at the Preston market (just around the corner from our place by bus) where they are open on the weekend serving string hoppers and hoppers, so I have a date in the future to visit them there, yummo!

And the excitement in our house is that the steel has been fabricated and is getting in place. I visited over the weekend and found that a lot of action had happened including a brick wall. We are so happy it is moving along and today I chatted to a guy welding away and he told me there was some steel to be put in the front of the house as well. Its so good to see the structure taking shape as I have memorised the whole build πŸ˜€

A Birthday, some city disruption and creative vibes

Last week turned out to be quite a busy week with Ash turning 14 on Friday! We enjoyed “our own birthday” school strike for climate change in the Melbourne CBD with Extinction Rebellion with their Disco Disruption dancing and marching in the streets. It was the best climate action rally I have experienced, with dancing in the streets in the middle of an intersection and then a die in in the middle of Bourke Street mall. I do hope we managed to create an awareness for a lot of the people who were taking video and photos with their phones .

Creating civil disruption works up an appetite so Ash wanted to go to ramen for dinner and we took the tram down to Brunswick to Misoya Sake Bar. I had a vegan ramen which was delish and the rest of the fam had special ramen and chicken broth ramen which they loved!

While we were there we found this beautiful artwork which was drawn on the loo, I love Barek’s style and would love to have some of this art in our house in the future.

Saturday came around and I was volunteering at Peppertree community nursery working at the cafe making coffees and toasties for the locals in the morning. It was very exciting for me as this was the first time for me making coffee and working at a cafe rather than eating there! I really enjoyed hanging out with the community and chatting to the local peeps. Afterwards it was a stunning day, I went for a bike ride – only to be swooped by a magpie at the back of my head and on my back. Luckily there was no blood but I did not want to take any chances as maggies remember the people they have attacked so I took an alternative route home and found the drive in! It is a shame we do not have a car to take there 😦

Then Sunday came around and we hired a rental car and drove to Bendigo. We stopped off at Kyneton for a cuppa and to meet up with our friends and then we drove over to the Bendigo Art Gallery. It was so beautiful to see the churches and heritage buildings in the countryside, and Bendigo is about 1 hour 30 mins away from Melbourne so a perfect drive time for a Sunday day trip. We parked our car at the beautiful Rosalind Park and found these tulips planted amongst the green, then we heard the sounds of flying foxes in the trees, it would be lovely to go back and wander the gardens. I just realised they have a sister city of Los Altos, and is represented with a garden of dry climate plants from California – cool!

The main focus of our Sunday day trip to Bendigo was to see the Balenciaga exhibition from the V&A in London. It was a truly inspirational exhibition for me as I loved his attention to detail and the way he worked was to use the fabric as the inspiration for the designs. The x ray pieces were presented to show how the fabric was in relation to the body. One of his dresses was designed to puff up with air as you walked and the inspiration was from harem pants to puff out a ball gown – he was an absolute genius. Having the combination of tailoring and design Balenciagia created some contemporary silhouettes that truly shaped and inspired fashion throughout time.

This is an item we could play with in the exhibit and it was made from muslin. It was an ingenious piece as it was presented in the collection as a gorgeous skirt. We had the opportunity to work it as a cape or a skirt, I love how clothes can be designed this way to have the ability to be worn various ways. Using inspiration from cultures around the world Balenciagia used fabrics to create bold shapes and designs.

As we were leaving the gallery an exhibition called Desert Lines with a collection of fabric by Australian Indigenous women was on display. I am such a fabric fan but we were in a hurry to go to lunch so I just captured their colour and design as I wandered by and they are absolutely beautiful.

And as I was on my first week of holidays away from Uni work I took a small break and did a little bit of sewing using a Japanese pattern book I found as I had a bolt of stretch fabric my friend gave me to work with – the red top at the end was my fave. But as I was enjoying working with the patterns so much I found some of my vintage fabric and made a summer top from Hawaiian fabric. I also used the eyelet fabric using the Square top pattern from She Wears the Pants – another Japanese sewing book. Now I have a bunch of tops to wear but I need to wait for the weather to get warmer first!

Spring break fun with the kids and the cats

As it was the last week of holidays and I needed a goal to work towards for my Uni assignments, we made a trip to Narre Warren to see the Katena Luminarium. It is an hour away on the freeway from the north side of the city – who knew! Once we hit the Eastlink it was 30km straight across and not very exciting at all in our little Car Next Door. Lucky for us, it was a beautiful sunny day but the Katena Luminarium was one hot little space on a warm day and it felt like we were being depleted of oxygen. Being inside is just like being inside a closed up bounce house. I have to say the inside was incredible to walk into as I have never seen anything like it in my life, the design of the curves and the colour was stunning and made gorgeous pics!

Friday was our first site meeting and the first time we had access to the property and to see the demo was intense, this is what is left of our front rooms! You can see the IKEA light just hanging in there. Our little Edwardian house is so old, as it had lath and plaster on the walls. The plaster needed to be removed as we are insulating the whole house which will be amazing!! It was so fun to walk around on the slab and imagine the kitchen and the living room. The builder was there outlining where the timber frame is going to be.

After our site meeting we took the kids out to the city for a bit of cat cafe action! We were ready but it was a rainy afternoon and the cats were napping so my cat fishing mission was a bit of a failure! Though we did get to travel down a lovely plant filled laneway to find the cat cafe and eat a rainbow toastie before we went in. After we were on a mission to find bubble tea and do a little bit of shopping for the kids and in the end we decided on a Japanese dinner feast with the kids where my hubby and I had our first date. All four of us rolled out, just like the cat bus in the film Totoro πŸ˜€

Saturday was my volunteer day. First at the gate of the farmers market, greeting the locals and meeting the dogs. After the market I went to Peppertree Place, another place where I have had to register to volunteer lately with a police check. So I paid to get that done and it was my first volunteer gig on a Saturday and it was amazing. The whole place was so busy, as there was a food swap where local gardeners bring in their bounty from their garden and swap with their neighbours plus there was some local entertainment with the Thornberries playing ukelele and singing! On this table there is sauerkraut, kombucha scobys, worm tea, flowers, herbs – lots of parsley, lettuces and silver beet. It was such an incredible energy to chat to the local community about what they grow and cook, as I love to cook it was a heavenly gig for me. Meeting the local peeps was so fun! I will be heading back in the future to help out at the cafe, which is something to look forward to.

Holidays, house and assignments done!

The last few weeks have been a bit of a blur with having to write 3 assignments! I am finally done with the assignments and at my last week of Uni now just wrapping up some readings and I will have a break for a month, yipee!! It is quite an achievement that I worked through 3 units and have come out at the end of the three weeks in one piece and not too frazzled.

Our house has finally moved on from a hole in the ground, to the black membrane which separates the concrete and now finally a massive concrete foundation, better get my skates on and start rollerskating!

As I was in full on study mode it was good to have Sunday brunch with some friends at South Wharf, I had no idea where it was in the city but it was a beautiful morning out. We were right next to the tall ship Polly Woodside – that I will have to take the kiddos out to one day!

It was James birthday week and I organised a little getaway on the Monday before his birthday – again, another study break but oh so worth it. It was the first day of the school holidays for the kiddos too! We all loved it as it was a totally meditative experience as you had to walk really slow so you did not get rained on. The immersive experience of the Rain Room was so cool as walked you stayed dry and even looking around you the rain was there and you were in your protected area with no rain. It was such an amazing experience with fantastic technology and art!

And here is the birthday dude with is cake made by me and decorated by Miss Hol with white chocolate hand drawn cat decorations with Happy Birthday stuck in the cake. Of course for a special dinner, I made a smoked salmon and goat cheese quiche and a pumpkin and cheddar quiche with a beautiful Pinot Noir wine from the Mornington Peninsula.

And to wrap up my week, Grammarly sent me my writing stats and man that is a lot of writing since I started Uni over 1 million! I reckon I looked that that cat by the time the last 12 weeks were over, my eyes bugging out of my head.

What do we want – Climate action!

Friday the 20th September 2019, was school strike for the climate and I went with my son and two of his grade 8 buddies. The boys had a fossil theme going on (see the signs above), with my favourite one being the Scomo skeleton the prime minister in a museum on my sons sign. Apparently there were 100,000 people in Melbourne and that is fantastic. Now we just gotta keep the momentum going and I need to join extinction rebellion as this video from Jane Goodall laid it all out for me today. It is so frustrating dealing with a government who does not listen to the people, as I read in the news on the day of the protests our PM was being wined and dined at the white house by Dump, ridiculous! The dinner of idiots and backward thinkers is all we need in this world, conspiring about who they can screw with next!! 😦

As we were enjoying our time in the streets with the people, we wandered out of the crowds for a feed. As I was hanging to try out Lord of the Fries – who knew the whole menu is vegan!! I just thought it was just chips, but hey you learn something new everyday. And as we were wandering down to Swanston Street, to some food we went down Collins Street totally void of moving cars (see above) and what a lovely sight that was! Back to my burger, I tried the Beyond Meat burgers which I had in America and it was so good – as a burger with the lot, Aussie style! And we all know what that means, beetroot and vegan egg on a burger and it was yummo and their fries, well you can choose to have chunky chips and they were so good!! Perfect after a lot of walking and hanging in the crowds.

Arting around

At our school we had our big event of the year – the Arts Show. I volunteered to help with the sock puppet activity with the community. A super easy craft consisting of, just socks, buttons/eyes, fabrics and hot glue – super easy and fun for all! It was such a great event with food trucks, music and art in every room. What I really enjoyed was the added element of technology, the kids in my daughters class were studying local birdlife so they used a Makey Makey and Scratch to program bird sounds. On the televisions in the classrooms were slideshows of artwork such as the nature mandalas and stories about the birds or animals narrated by the kids which created a whole atmosphere.

The other fun thing I did this week was volunteer at an art studio and work with early childhood children. As I have been contemplating changing my degree to early childhood/primary. It certainly was different compared to what I am used to and it requires a whole different mindset. I had prepared a watercolour drawing lesson using shapes inspired by Ed Emberley but when the ages of the children were from 2 to 5 years old, you are switching up your lesson ideas on the fly, these kids just want to get into it! I would have to say, even though the kids are super cute at this age – I have decided to stay with kiddos in Primary school. Below is the example I showed the kids to work with shape and line and walked through each shape step by step. I could really tell who the older kids were as they knew their shapes, as for the littles it is marks on paper.

Santa has recently visited our house with an iPad and an Apple Pencil. So to balance my left brain that has been writing essays for Uni, I have been drawing in the evening using my right brain and it has been so good to draw again. We bought this amazing app called Procreate for $10 and it is super powerful, just like Adobe Illustrator with many aspects of Photoshop so I am so in love with this program and very happy to be drawing again. Procreate is amazing with an art shop at your fingertips! I am tracing a lot of my photographs to get used to drawing again and it has been so fun, I am loving it. Here are some illustrations of what I have been creating – too easy.

Springing in the sunshine!

The week began last week with some celebrations with our neighbour from Mountain View coming over for dinner (Tess lived right across the path from us and we did cat sitting for each other). Back in Mountain View, we had a couple of dinners with a savoury salmon pie, so I said to my friend, “come on over to our place in Melbourne, for some salmon pie and whatever treat you would like!” And the treat ended up being a special request with a pavlova decorated by Missy, our future baker. We did cheat a little by buying the base as the oven in this rental property is very unpredictable. We all enjoyed the Pav as a finale to our feast with a special Aussie wine with the name of Petaluma to remind us of California!

At the end of last week I went to secure my practicum placement at a local community kindergarten. It is perfect with an amazing outdoor space and an open plan indoor space and I will be working with the 4 year olds. Apparently in December just before Christmas all the kids go a bit cray cray as they are excited to start primary school and reckon they are big kids! I a thrilled as it is a 15 minute bike ride away from our house and I am pretty excited to be working in early childhood. Before I went to the kinder I had a magpie come and swoop me on my bike, now when I approach the kinder I have to walk my bike. Here is a little know fact, maggies remember their victims, and as I was leaving the maggie came flying at me. I was walking my bike across the road with my bag on my head, then we just looked at each other and I think she realised I would not harm her nest. Her red eyes were intense I have to say they are still one of my favourite birds – they have the best song.

After my ride to the kinder I went to take my bike in for a service and by the time I arrived it was time for lunch, so I had a treat of a lunch out at Small Block and came home to do some Uni work. Later that arvo Sam from Bikes Please called and said my bike was ready for pick up – I have to say it is a dream to ride now with its new brakes and shiny chain! Riding home see the pics above of what spring is doing in Melbourne πŸ˜€

My hubby went our house to see the concrete in our yard last week. See those big boulders, the excavator could not move them so has had to work around them and just pour the concrete in between adding another $9K to the bill – hopefully now that we have dealt with “the ground”, the future surprise costs will be minimal!!

Whilst my hubby went to our house, I was enjoying my volunteer shift at the farmers market gate and welcoming the community and patting the dogs in the sunshine. It certainly is a pretty sweet volunteer gig as I enjoy chatting to the locals. I found some amazing shiitake mushrooms and fermented garlic there and tasted some water kefir. Every time I go there there is always amazing finds! This is the rice bowl I made with the mushrooms and the garlic, with roasted SMALT BBQ Rub (my friends amazing company!!) chick peas, roasted tarragon pumpkin and topped with hemp seeds – it was absolutely divine.

Local discoveries

Last week was so nice just to hang out and catch up on my Uni work and have a little bit of freedom to meet a friend for lunch and do some volunteering at my daughters primary school. I am back to Uni again this week and after being caught up, I now have two more assignments to complete in the next two weeks. Still it keeps me occupied and I enjoy it.

See those delicious rice paper rolls up there – they are from a local vegan Vietamese cafe in Coburg that I was really excited to check out. The food was so fresh and the tea was divine so I am looking forward to going back again soon!

Apart from chilling last week, I enjoyed some time at the gym and seeing the blooms of spring appearing – bring it on I say! I do miss the sunshine of California but it is winter, so it is to be expected. I have also been uploading DVDs from way back when and they are hilarious, if you want to check them out and see the kiddos and the cats back in the day they are on Vimeo.

And more exciting news on the house this week, with the bobcat excavating the back yard getting ready for the concrete foundation. We got a call the other day that these guys said they were digging out massive rocks and as you can see there are plenty. My hubby went out to have a chat with our architect and they decided that there’s enough stone underneath that the concrete can just go around them. So hopefully come Saturday we will see some concrete happening.