Sweet as, alright!

 

Chilling out with the family in Melbourne over the winter we wanted to enjoy the sunshine when we had the opportunity so we headed on over to a fave place I used to frequent often years ago the Royal Botanical Gardens AKA The Tan.

DSCN0531DSCN0536

The kids were complaining about all the walking we were doing so we checked out Fern Gully, once a home to the flying foxes (they have been relocated to another park outside of the city) and the Guilfoyle’s volcano, which my daughter thought was a real volcano but she was a bit annoyed to find a volcano-shaped pool. I loved the design especially the water saving plants surrounding the pool. My son enjoyed touching the sharp cactus in his Pikachu hat.

While we were at the gardens we saw a cockatoo flying around – who knows what they are doing in the city these days? The botanical garden is a picturesque place to wander around and practice taking pics with my new camera.

After the gardens, we enjoyed ramen in the city and enjoyed our anniversary gift of a trip to Sugar Republic in Fitzroy. It was the Aussie version of the Museum of Ice Cream in SF, which I have never been to it is hard to get tickets – many of my friends have been and their pics are super cool.

This was so fun with spinning the wheel of treats to score some goodies, then we wandered into sugar heaven with a bag of wizz fizz – whew way too much sugar for me. After that hit, we enjoyed a charcoal cone of soft serve ice cream with sprinkles, mmmm! I have recently quit sugar so I was a bit high after all this and then I scored an iced vovo, yummo I have not had one in ages! The massive ice cream sculptures have one of my fave ice blocks a Golden Gaytime.

DSCN0591DSCN0595DSCN0601

We jumped out of a giant birthday cake in a room of confetti and each room was created by a different artist which made the flow of the space really fun.

DSCN0619DSCN0620DSCN0607DSCN0612

We really enjoyed the lolly shop with all the lollies that we used to score for $1 at the milk bar. The wall of neon was super cool with many treats including fairy bread, I must say this was the prettiest neon I have ever seen and I live in the land of neon in the US of A.

 

On our exit, we enjoyed some time in the ball pit of bubblegum bubbles, where it was important to take off all your accessories otherwise they would disappear to the bottom of the pool! The kids were very excited and really enjoyed the ball pit where they told us to swim under the balls, scary stuff!!

It will be our 12th anniversary on July 23rd and we will be on either side of the world so our celebration was to enjoy our time together with the family at Sugar Republic.

The kids were swinging in the fairy floss room, it would have been so good to get some fairy floss too as part of the sugar high.

 

We had such a fun time eating sugar and getting the sugar high with the sweet of the day musk sticks! The cool thing about Sugar Republic was that it was at a warehouse where the Macrobertson factory once stood back in the day and there was a wonderful story about “white city” that once stood in the streets of Melbourne – the home of Freddo Frog and Cherry Ripe. In the story, I liked how the owner of the factory wore a white suit and hat and rode around in a carriage pulled by two white ponies.

 

Farewell Melbourne, until we meet again!

IMG_7677

Our final week in Melbourne was a week of how much more delicious Melbourne food can we eat?

IMG_7681IMG_7684IMG_7635IMG_7709IMG_7710IMG_7632

Melbourne is a foodie city which is why I love it so much, it speaks my language – the language of food in many cuisines. Melbourne is an absolute delight to visit, and there are always many superb restaurants to discover! My sister told me about a place called Lankan Tucker in Brunswick – as one of my last lunches with my foodie friend Cath we went for a feed of pan rolls and stuffed roti, it was absolutely delightful. The day before we had visited my uncles take away Sri Lankan shop and had a pan roll and brought home many treats we had with dinner – the kids wanted more by the time we left, which is always good. Sri Lankan food is always an excellent find – these treats of pan rolls and stuffed roti are quite time-consuming, so it is a real score to find them. At Lankan Tucker, the toilet was the best with some sayings we used to hear all the time from our parents, these sayings were described as “Lankanisms”, an absolute classic! Indeed, we would love to go back for more next time we go to Melbourne, and we will be visiting Uncle Glens take away for an order of pan rolls from Curry and Chips.

IMG_7676

We always find well-made coffee in Melbourne that is just amazing but the kids even score with a beautiful hot chocolate as well – to me it is all about the ritual of coffee and tea, enjoying time over a cuppa. None of this takeout and go business, no thank you!

IMG_8474

On Sunday we celebrated our 11th wedding anniversary – it was a hot day, so off we went to downtown Mountain View for dinner of a $12 salad from sweetgreen – I really like their ethos towards food sustainability and their support of local food and agriculture. I felt like a salad and scored a salad a mighty big one at that, it was chilli hot which added to the salad and our first time there. It was OK, but I think it may have been better with pickles, everything is better with pickles. As steel was the element for our 11th anniversary, I said to my hubby hey we were in a steel aeroplane for a very long time I think that makes a great anniversary gift – a trip home to Australia! Even though I have been living here for nearly 11 years, Australia is where I feel I belong.

So I was very excited to come back and see the ladies at the ranch – I love the chickens, and the Bantams have grown so much, time for some selfies with the chicks!!

On Monday it was hug a chicken day, in our neck of the woods! I don’t think they were that excited to see us but we bought them some treats, so in the end, they were happy. The kids really spent so much time with them and gave them lots of hugs and attention. Now it is back to reality, and I actually start a full-time job in August as a Teacher Assistant, life is going to start to get real busy!!

Somewhere beyond the sea…

IMG_8544

And into the SeaLife Aquarium, we went on Friday so the cousins could hang together and we could check out another tourist trap. The weather turned to rain and cold so we changed our zoo plans to an indoor activity and that was the aquarium. We enjoyed our time with the family wandering through the different areas and learning about sea creatures and a lot of them were Aussies so that was fascinating. I like to go to aquariums to learn about sea creatures and this little red fella is a fiddler crab and it derives its name from the fact that one of the male’s claws, called the fiddle, is larger than the other.

The octopus was showing off its tentacles as we wandered by and this was a Maori Octopus the largest octopod in Australasia and can exceed an arm-span of three metres and a mass of 10 kilograms. I still love octopus and my favorite is the Giant Pacific Octopus that I have seen at many aquariums on the Pacific North West. We found this groovy looking prawn and the kids enjoyed coloring in Finding Dory characters to watch them appear on the wall.

IMG_8617

We fell in love with this guy the Boyd Forest Dragon – this relative of the dinosaurs enjoys living on the tree trunks in the Daintree rainforest up in Far North Queensland. It is such a handsome little reptile and so photogenic too!

IMG_8626IMG_8654IMG_8647IMG_8636

All of these Australian sea creatures are close to my heart – the Giant Cuttlefish being an absolutely favorite animal. Cephalopod Love. The weedy seadragon and the leafy seadragon have been successfully bred in the aquarium as these beautiful creatures are near threatened so it is important to be made aware of them to preserve their natural habitats. And of course the green tree frog their numbers have been in decline for a very long time thanks to the Cane Toad – now that is a disaster of a story!

As we wandered into Antartica for the last exhibit we found the King Penguin and the Gentoo Penguin. There were so many penguins in the exhibit and I felt a bit sorry for them due to the small exhibit wth lots of animals. The Gentoo penguins conservation status are near threatened. They are an endless little ball of black and white energy swimming around in the tank and I absolutely loved watching them dive and swim.

Soon after we played tourist we wanted some food as the aquarium food was pretty crappy – would you like fried, fried or more fried food and the only vegetarian option was hot chips! Federation Square was close by and as there was a group of us, Chocolate Buddha is a great place to eat and the kids love Japanese – win win! We saw the Melbourne bikes and the boys were enjoying seeing themselves up on the big screen at the square. The architecture here is captivating and is art in itself it truly exemplifies Melbourne in this central location. The food at Chocolate Buddha has always been very good and is presented beautifully. I enjoyed the lunch tray with grilled salmon and it was such a treat!

Saturday the 23rd marked our 10th wedding anniversary – it was so perfect that we were in Melbourne to celebrate. I asked my sister in law if the kids could have a sleep over so we could go out and spend some time together. The kids couldn’t wait to go and we were looking forward to a night out so everyone was happy. I found a vegetarian restaurant in Rose Street, Fitzroy called Transformer. This was not just any vegetarian restaurant with veggie burgers and the like – this is a place where vegetables take centre stage and the dishes are all presented in a sophisticated way. It is not often we go out and enjoy a dinner where the food is so artfully presented, so a decade of marriage is the best opportunity! The flavours of the food were combined beautifully using sweet, sour, hot, umami to perfection. The menu is seasonal so it changes with the veggies available, so the flavours really shine. The cocktail flavors were super creative, for example in the Kawaii Five-O – Green Tea Ume, Mandarin and Lemongrass Sherbet, Matcha and Lemon – all right down my alley with the citrus and tea. The desserts were just delightful in their presentation and the flavor combinations of meringue and sweet fruit flavors like freeze dried mandarin were magical. Truly this was an absolute pleasure in food experiences for us.

After our dinner at Transformer, we took a walk down Brunswick Street to see what other restaurant highlights had popped up over the last 10 years. We saw Smith and Daughters a vegan restaurant which looks like something we hope we can try before we leave in a couple of weeks. To escape the chill of the night we ended our evening at the cinema seeing the film ‘Sing Street’ and enjoyed the flashback to the 1980s. For a couple of film aficionados, this was the best way to spend our anniversary.

Sunday we enjoyed a brunch with friends who 10 years ago were at our wedding reception – it was so wonderful to spend a relaxing time with everyone and enjoy delicious food and wine. In Melbourne, this is the place to celebrate good food and forever family and friends.

 

A piece a Week – An anniversary getaway in Sebastopol in pictures


For our 9th wedding anniversary this year we wanted to check out Sebastopol at an Urbarn Farm Air BnB. This gorgeous craftsman house we stayed at came complete with chickens, bunnies, a cat and a hot tub for relaxation. We had such a relaxing time reading, hanging out in the hot tub eating delicious meals with fresh eggs from the chooks. The kitchen was a dream to cook in with a beautiful view of the back garden and a kitchen island with draws for organization – the best was the gas stove! Our place has electric only so it is always a treat to be cooking with gas especially when cooking is a favorite thing to do. For the first dinner when we arrived we had this leek, olive and tomato rice salad with feta and hard boiled eggs with a glass of Pinot Noir from Sonoma County – a splendid beginning to our getaway!
Dinner inspired by this Brazilian rice dish 
On our first day out into downtown Sebastopol – just a walk away was a trip to the Barlow – an up and coming local food, art and retail area. There was a Mexican place I wanted to check out called Cinco but it still is a work in progress – always next time… we had some lunch at Zazu Kitchen and Farm which is great if you like meat and pig especially – so it was not a good choice for me being a vegetarian – pretty much every dish had a pig meat product to accompany it. I ended up having dessert for lunch made with local goat cheese so that worked out fine! My husband had the pastrami sandwich which he said was a bit too chewy. 
Happiness is sunny sunflowers!
An apple processing plant converted to a collection of local delicacies 

Coming home in the afternoon we hung around in the garden with Tiger Lily the cat of the house – she is such a sweet pussy cat! The garden was beautiful with a veggie garden out the front with the chicken coop.

Tiger Lily

Hydrangea in bloom

Zucchini flowers

A pollinator in action!  

The chicken whisperer

Feathery chicken bottoms!

Fresh eggs every day!

Our bounty from the garden

The weather was perfect!
The kiddos enjoyed being farmers for the time we were away and spent a lot of time with the chickens and in the hot tub! The hot tub was at the end of the deck with lots of sunshine in the afternoon to relax and read – we all enjoyed catching up on our reading! My summer reading is The Hunger Games trilogy that I am really loving. The films are also superb with the costume design! 
The little farmers with the bounty

The kids in the hot tub

Snowy (the kids named him) the chicken

Albert – named after Albert Einstein as he is such a smart chicken

Ash is now on Harry Potter number 7 – with each book we get to watch the film!

Venturing out to Sebastopol in search of more goodies we found Screamin’ Mimis ice cream for a treat and just around the corner this amazing mid century modern furniture store Retrospect where we found this wooden chess set in a box for Ash for his birthday. I loved it and would have bought furniture if we had the space – there were a couple of sunburst clocks which are hard to find! The store was curated beautifully with found art on the wall by the owner – definitely a gem of a vintage store.

Enjoying ice cream at Screamiin’ Mimis!

Dinner was across the road at Sushi Tozai – fresh, local and organic where possible and it was indeed! The cocktail I had a cosmo made with Soju which was super strong accompanied with the rainbow roll made with fresh fish selected by the chefs! I of course enjoyed the ceramics, I need to chat to my teacher on how this soy sauce pot is made 🙂

Sushi Tozai – right across the street, now that was a score!
What a rainbow roll – delicious!!

To say a fond farewell to this lovely house that inspired us to own a craftsman house and become urban farmers – maybe one day in Portland??

Saying farewell to this beautiful house! 

While we were in Sebastopol I had read about Bohemian Creamery in the local paper The Bohemian and wanted to check out the goat milk frozen yoghurt (lavender and agave which took me to the Shasta lavender farm) and of course the cheeses! We were very lucky to taste the cheeses before we made our choices but the one which stood out for us was the Cowabunga with the goat milk caramel in the center – perfect for an after brunch treat. Overall this is a foodie paradise full of people who are super friendly and relaxed – Sonoma County is the place for me with it’s local philosophy with food that I love and appreciate! 

Looking forward to enjoying this bounty of cheeses from water buffalo, goat and cow

It was close to lunch time by the time we left so we had one more stop downtown at the local Ramen restaurant. All I can say is it was perfect with all the veggies and seaweed with the crispy tofu and egg being the stars of this Ramen bowl!

Vegetable Ramen just to visit Sebastopol for!

As we were waiting for the Ramen restaurant to open we wandered to the local crystal store called The Uncarved Block and found our souvenir of our adventures an egg shaped crystal all the way from my favourite state in Australia, Tasmania made from Atlantisite, Serpentine and Stichtite. The store was beautifully laid out with places where crystals are found in the world which was fascinating! And at home I found the perfect nest for the crystal on the bookshelf – perfect for our adventure with chickens!

Our souvenir egg from the crystal store The Uncarved Block all the way from Tasmania, Australia