Whoa what a week it has been with Missy’s 11th birthday over the weekend and we started the weekend with a vanilla mud cake topped with unicorn sprinkles and the best rainbow glitter candles! It was a huge day and we had a tasty Mexican lunch at Hotel Jesus in Fitzroy, it is a perfect place for brunch. The Oaxacan feast was the best – my friend and I enjoy the vegetarian feast!
After our Mexican lunch, we went across the road to Gelato Messina and the most amazing ice cream ever. Definitely a place to check out if you love ice cream, I first found their ice cream cones at the supermarket as I was drawn to the design on the packaging and they were divine. It was also the big day to buy a birthday present from mum and dad and she wanted a short scale bass case. Who know they were hard to find! So we went to Manny’s – a well known music store and then they had cases but for regular size guitars. They were not working out, so my friend offered to drive us to South Melbourne to the Bass Centre to pick up the case they had in stock – mission accomplished! After all this excitement we had to end the day with a lovely cup of tea – Rooibos (bohemian rhapsody) and some sweets in South Melbourne at Bibelot a beautifully designed French patisserie, just like Alexanders Patisserie in Mountain View – it bought back so many memories!
Then Monday came around and it was time for camp for Missy and a Taro Latte for Ash as he got to hang out with Mum solo for 2 days. I was chatting to a parent friend of mine at the primary school and they said the kids were flat out with their activities at camp – making a raft, enjoying a disco, going for a night hike, jumping on the water trampoline and making damper (and burning it!). Lucky kids, it sounds like such a fun camp!
Well what can I say about last week is that all I got to do was get into my little routine of going to the gym every day except Saturday and study every day! That was the plan but as it turned out the weekend was no study time as we had to run errands on Sunday to get stuff for Missy’s camp at the Yarra Valley and eat ramen in the city. Saturday I had to talk to a builder and get a couch delivered, so good to have a couch that I have borrowed from my friend.
Life has been very boring of late as I have two very heavy subjects and lots of reading. I have assignments due – one this week and one next week and I am trying to get it all done so I can go away for our little Easter break at the Dandenong Ranges to see Rone and play in the forest for a while! I really have to have some goals at the moment as the solo parenting is taking its toll on my mind and time. Lucky for the gym as that really helps with getting out and doing something otherwise the week flies by with study and if I am lucky a bit of crafting at night as it is hard to focus on reading, let along writing something sensible. I went to the craft store on the weekend to get some yarn and supplies so I can craft on a whim.
The kids are doing well at school though they say they are bored so I feel that it could have been better for them if we stayed over in the States, especially at our wonderful elementary school. Thing is if you are used to a progressive approach to education it is a hard to compare it to anything else. As the kids are at public schools here which look good to me but I am not at school everyday so maybe they just need more challenge? It could be that one is a tween and the other is a teen and all they want to do is be on the screen – aaargh my greatest enemy/friend. I use my machine to study each day so it hard for me to model good screen time behaviours but these two are on them as soon as they come home from school and until I turn the wi-fi off at 8pm. I have had to unplug the wi-fi but I need more strategies to get these kids to do something else! They get their chores done but then what? We had a great time when we first moved in to our house and we played Exploding Kittens everyday after dinner until they got sick of it but I think we will have to start again just to have some quality family time.
I still am looking for my peeps and I feel like a stranger in a strange land. Repatriating is tough and I had read about how it feels in books but it is not until you are in the situation you realise that you have to start all over again from scratch. Well at least I have some family and friends here I can call upon, but now that school is happening again the weekends for a lot of them are playing sports. It has been 3 months since I left California and I would like to get out more but I really don’t have time to spare with having to study at every moment I can find. I need to make more goals of hanging with friends for study break times and just get out an about. The kids don’t help as everything I suggest to day trip to they say, “oh that’s boring!” Maybe I was like that when I was young and just wanted to play Nintendo all the time?
At least this weekend we have a plan to go to Fitzroy for Mexican food at Hotel Jesus for Missy’s 11th birthday and go out for some ice cream at Gelato Messina and then to the music shop to get the birthday prezzie of a bass guitar case – good times here we come, now that is a great goal to work towards!
So last week I went to my first rally in Australia – it was so good as it was an organised kids rally known as the Strike for Climate Change. The (high school) kids were encouraged to take a day off school to go to the city and get out in the streets to say to the Government stop, look, listen this is our planet and you are screwing it up. The numbers according to the Climate Rally Facebook page was around 30,000 people in Melbourne. I had such a fun time making the signs and the kids made theirs too as soon as they got home after their morning tea at school. The signs were very creative and it was such a wonderful energy to be out in the streets with little kids in strollers, kids at primary school to kids in high school! We as humans need to keep this energy going and tell the governments to stick the coal back in the ground – it is time to rise up and take notice of what is happening around the world. No use sticking your head in the sand and selling off our country for piece meal resources because I know when it is election day this year I will not be voting for the current political party – they have given me many reasons not to vote for them!
As we were coming back home on the train with the kids I took them down Hosier Lane in the city for a bit of street art inspiration!
Oh and I wanted to share some insights about how I like to save the planet:
Reduce, reuse and recycle – OK we hear this all the time but the idea is to reduce the amount of stuff we consume. My focus is on food, so each week I plan our meals and make sure I keep the leftovers for lunch. For the last three months I have been living very minimally out of two suitcases and using stuff that was given to me in my storage from 12 years ago and it works.
I have discovered some basic essentials to live; here is what I have been using in the kitchen… I love our economical fridge at 490 Kilowatts a year, our gas stove, glasses, teacups, a crockery set, rice cooker, cast iron pan, Nutribullet (great for the fruit you buy in bulk), toaster, soda stream (from my friend) and kettle. I don’t have a saucepan as I use the rice cooker to cook pasta, rice, quinoa, couscous and boiled eggs (who knew!), cutlery and of course food items to your liking.
Recycle – Think about your rubbish and recycle what you can – even recycling bread bags and lightweight plastic at the supermarket. Nearly everything has a number on it for recycling which makes it easy. For extra textile scraps I use it to stuff pillows and for rags.
Food – I like to support local food suppliers and Ceres Fair Food is my favourite as I can get everything that a vegetarian would love! Their selection includes pantry items as well as local fruit, vegetables and eggs – it is so good to support the local farmers and community jobs. Of course I will go to the supermarket to get extras like ice blocks for the kids and sustainably sourced seafood
Clothing – Now being here and living out of the supplies I bought with me from our move from California in my two suitcases have been expanded by going to the second hand shop and buying jeans or t-shirts and up cycling to create something unique to you. Obviously sewing skills are necessary so I plan to do some classes with the local community in the future. Now my quirky wardrobe has been expanded to included a few more mid season pieces for Autumn.
Home decoration – Well to add some life to our house I have screen printed (it helped that I had some screen printing supplies in my stash of crafting supplies!) some denim to make very durable pillows for the couch and I used my excess fabric from sewing to make a patchwork pillow. This week I wanted to make a crystal hanging so I crocheted a piece of wood from the garage to make a wall hanging for some hooks that were looking bare. All you need is a bit of imagination and some bits and bobs hanging around the house and some creative energy.
Getting around – as my hubby is not too keen to get a car at the moment I have registered for Car Next Door so I can borrow neighbours cars to get around. So it is possible but most likely costly in the long run to hire cars and take taxis when the public transport is not working in your favour. I am getting a lot of exercise walking everywhere. To get into the city or to friends places there is the train and tram. I am patiently awaiting the arrival of my beloved bicycle so I can get to the gym quicker! I was pretty impressed on the cross trainer the other day when I increased the resistance and it said I saved 19 minutes energy to power on a 4.9 kilometre walk/run.
It has been an interesting with being back home for nearly three months and living this minimalist lifestyle has taught me you don’t need too much stuff to get by day to day if you have family and friends to help you get organised. Next thing I need to deal with is all the stuff that is coming here by ship, yikes!
Oh and the Redback spider came down from her web the other day and is now toast!
Over and out for now with my crafting and sewing and to wrap it up I collected all the pieces from my work and made a another pillow which is stuffed with the smaller scraps as a memento of my time with my machines. I am now back to studying two subjects Developing Literacy and the Theories of Teaching and Learning both have a LOT of reading and now I am in planning mode so I can get my assignments done on time and balance the rest of my life living as solo parent with two tweenagers.
Last week was a long weekend so we went and did some house research as we are going to leave our lovely house sometime in the near future for the remodel. So as we were in a different part of the neighbourhood we checked out an amazing cafe The Boot Factory on Pentridge Boulevard. The crushed avocado, preserved lemon whipped ricotta with a poached egg was divine and their coffee was the best I have had so far. My favourite part of lunch was the vintage inspired decor complete with comfy couches and old wooden chairs and this gorgeous table lamp. I will have to visit again soon!
This lovely dress is from the same pattern a 1970s dress that was paired with the skivvy on the pattern picture so I thought excellent it can be layered or not for the changing weather. The dress was created for an up-cycled sari fabric which was once a maternity skirt. With the swing in the A-line, I felt it needed pockets so I added a couple of decorative pockets – I would not put my phone or anything valuable in there but it is fun for your hands!
This dress was another old pattern from the late 1990s I reckon that I used to wear a lot in many fabrics back in the day as it is pretty versatile. The skirt of the Japanese fabric was sewn together randomly and saved from the landfill as it was older and stained so I screen printed over the discolouration on the fabric pieced it together and voila a skirt with a top made from a $4 XL t-shirt.
The grey dress is a $2 Muse concert t-shirt cut up and mixed up with the XL tee and the skirt is from a dress I wore for my 30th birthday at Misty bar in Melbourne which is now permanently closed. It’s location was on the very cool Hosier Lane which is a huge tourist attraction with street art covering the walls of the laneway – I may have to go and check it out again and perhaps finally go to Movida to eat. This pattern is super comfortable and works well on hot days.
Looking around the neighbourhood I found the Penal Establishment of Pentridge with its bluestone walls and behind this huge entrance is another development with apartments and I am looking forward to how this all looks in the future with its inner city high density vibe going on. I love how heritage listed elements are combined with modern urban architecture.
Better get back to work as I have a couple of kids wanting the day off school so they can strike for Climate Change. It should be big with many kids taking time off school to show the government what they stand for as it is their future after all. Last rally I attended was the Womens March in San Jose, looking forward to my first rally back in Australia!
The weather here has been brutal with the heat but now we have finally had a cool change and I am now wearing a cardigan – that is Melbourne weather in a nutshell, four seasons in one week, well it used to be one day! I thought last week was my last week to create but as it turns out I have another week of creative fun! So this week I have made a denim skirt from a $10 pair of massive mens jeans and a dress out of some stretch fabric (my friend gave me a whole roll of red stretch fabric) and I found some cotton fabric at the Salvos, also some hair bands for the gym from the stretch fabric scraps and a hat from kimono fabric. It is incredible how resourceful you can be when you have a minimal amount of fabric to work with.
Next move is in the works for this year and I started looking at rental properties last weekend as builders are checking out the house to give us a price for the extension of our 2 bedroom to extend to a 3 bedroom with open plan living and dining. I am excited about it all, but living in this current state of flux is difficult. We have just moved back here and our stuff from California is in the middle of the ocean on a container and we have to think about moving house again! Lucky this house is all clear of all the stuff from 12 years ago (thank you Brotherhood of St Laurence and Red Rabbit rubbish removals) and we have a few boxes to move but the arrival date of the furniture, clothes, books, craft and kitchen items are arriving end of March, yikes! We have one month grace period, where Allied International can hold our stuff at their warehouse – so I have to manifest a new place for us by the end of April. Again depending on the schedule of the builder is whether we will stay here or be moving in the next couple of months. I hope the extension starts sooner rather than later as we started working on this huge project in August 2017!
I am thankful that I have my machines to keep me company as the move back has been way harder than I imagined with the integration into a new community as a new migrant to Australia. I imagined that amazing little island paradise I was living back in Mountain View with our incredible parent community so it would be easy to come in and make friends. But that was a community I was a part of since Kindergarten – so that made sense I was fully immersed within it. Here it is a lot harder to make friends even though Aussies are super friendly! I have met two 5th grade parents which is something but everyone has their own lives so it is tricky to be the newbie and try and even hang out with local folks. Even at the gym, I say hi to a bunch of people but again it is not the same as the wonderful ladies I spent a lot of time with over there. The peeps at the gym are friendly and we chat about how hardcore the classes are and have a good laugh at our lack of fitness which is a lot of fun and great for my mental health. I have friends here who I catch up with on the weekends but generally it can get a bit lonely during the week but once I get back into study it will be best that I keep to myself and get my butt into gear. It is good to get out and socialise so we went to the city over the weekend to go to the art shop to gather supplies and track down some Mexican food at Guzman y Gomez. Nothing as good as Mexican food in Los Angeles and SF but the tacos were pretty good with the tasty chipotle salsa, yummo!
The kids have found some friends at school and I am happy as long as they come home with a smile on their faces, so I am feeling good about their schools and their time here. It has been just over 2 months back here and our routine is set with walking to school in the morning and I am off to the gym for some exercise and time out. It feels like a natural transition now and I am feeling at home but each day as I look around and listen to the birds and the trams I think, wow it is real – I am back in the inner city of Melbourne complete with the disgusting smell of cigarette smoke! BTW hardly anyone smoked cigarettes in the Bay Area so I got used to the lack of smoke in the air there except when there was bushfires and bad pollution days 😦
Now I am back into the swing of things as a solo parent and last week was quite a doozy. The week started off well with a little feature on Instagram which was cool! After that, I enjoyed an excellent week of just creating with my overlocker and sewing machine and fabric to repurpose.
Midweek my son was sick with a tummy bug which we all got by the end of the week which was bad! Which made our weekend was a complete bust and time for recovery. My mission last week was just to create as much as I could as I have not had an opportunity to just make freely for a very long time. Back in California every time I had a spare moment it was spent organising the move back to Australia, so this was my chance!
So I went down to the local Dimmeys and found some cheap clothes that could be cut up and recreated into something else. At the moment travelling to find a fabric store sucks up time, so this was a random Plan B. This plan worked and I found some overstock jeans from a USA fast fashion label for $10, a big black t-shirt $4 and a plain black skirt for $3. The jeans have been screen printed and made into pillows for my lounge – I had to grab another denim skirt for $9 and repurpose that to complete a pair of pillows. I am finishing the third pillow using the top of the skirt with the button and zip which needs a bit of hand sewing with strong button thread.
The black t-shirt has been used for the top of a dress I am finishing with a fair amount of hand sewing before it is complete. I am still working through some ideas as I have really enjoyed just finding my patterns, cutting and sewing away without any real thought of consequence or deliberation for example when I use expensive fabrics. It is such creative freedom!
Today I went out for lunch with my friend and we had a delicious lunch together at East Elevation, in Lygon St, Brunswick East. We were first introduced to this place via coffee and my friend wanted to check out the food today. I enjoyed a plate full of mushrooms and goat cheese on rye (I am missing mushrooms as I would be the only person eating them in the house at the moment – so it is a treat) with an amazing Flat White. The inside space is amazing as from the outside is a big red door and surprise when you walk in, its a massive warehouse space with plants everywhere which I just love! We will have to check it out again sometime soon and see their quails and bees and chocolate factory!! 😀 This stunning flower is part of a display designed by a bespoke floral studio, ceciliafox it’s a Berzelia albiflora a Native to South Africa. I love the discovery of interesting finds that have many secrets behind their doors.
It was our last week together with my hubby in town until we are reunited again in April with our cat, I so miss my Bella girl! She will spend 10 days in quarantine before she is released to us when they both come home. I am so looking forward to patting her again. The plan was to spend some quality family time together and we went out to dinner for the CERES Tamil Feasts in support of Tamil men from Sri Lanka currently seeking asylum in Australia. It was a delicious spread of Sri Lankan food with fish as the highlight of the meal, and for the vegetarians, there was a vegan option. The fish was just how my mum makes her mackerel fish curry with a side of parrippu and other delicious goodies. It was hot for me but as I am not used to eating a lot of hot food so anything with a bit of chilli is a challenge these days. It was a 3-course menu and was so filling. We also celebrated with some alcoholic beverages on the side. The bonus too is that there was a chai tea the men make up that we bought to have at home – delish!
It was insightful to hear the men’s stories of how they have fled Sri Lanka in search of a better life only to be in detention for 6 years in Australia moving from state to state until finally, they came to Melbourne. Countries around the world all have their shame and this is Australia’s shameful contribution with their treatment of people who travel over here on a boat, crossing oceans not even knowing how to swim and risking their lives only to be locked away for arriving undocumented in this country. It would be a good thing for Australia to come up with a solution but the politicians are too busy infighting to even consider anyone else? It is such a shambles!
Enough politics, for now, the Tamil feast was at one of my favourite places in Melbourne CERES – the Centre for Environmental Research in Environmental Strategies at their cafe The Merri Table. It is such a special place to visit with chickens for the kids to enjoy and their market on the weekend plus the cafe which serves incredible food – I think I need to arrange a meet up with friends there soon.
As we were so full we decided to walk around at night for a bit to digest and who did we find – a cat called Gato who followed us for many blocks until he decided, these people are not giving me any more pats I will find someone else!
Saturday was a great sunny day and I met up with a friend at another lovely cafe in Fitzroy Gardens called Kere Kere Green where I enjoyed this flat white with a vegan toasted sandwich – yummo! The playing cards they give for your places are kept until the end of your visit and you use them to vote for a community outreach initiative that the cafe organises. Such a super idea for giving back to the community and such a friendly and happy place on the edge of the most gorgeous garden where I spent a lot of my lunchtimes contemplating cube life when I worked for a corporate company. I have so many peaceful memories where I felt so connected to nature balancing the boredom of a day in an office – we did make our own fun though!
This week I have found time for my creative streak to shine on where I have taken some of my old clothes and a fave fabric from my stash to make a couple of new pieces. I was realising my lack of clothes for winter and have made some layering pieces the top is from an old skirt originally kimono fabric and the dress is some fabric I kept from my fabric stash from 12 years ago (the rest of the fabric I donated on Gumtree). It has been so good to get out my old Janome machines and get busy. I only have 2 more weeks of freedom before my time is devoted to studying again, so I gotta make the most of it. The bonus was that my overlocker was already threaded and ready to go – now I am going through clothes that I originally threw out and I am going to repurpose them into new items for my winter wardrobe as the shipped goods will not be arriving until the end of April, so my leather coat will arrive just in time before winter.
The weekend was full of catching up with friends – eating and drinking and celebrating Chinese New Year together. The change of weather to a bit of coolness was appreciated and we wandered out to the city in the morning for the Sustainable Living Festival which happens over the month of February. My friend suggested we catch up and check it out and the young girls made a small bird treehouse and Ash enjoyed a story making workshop and created a space ship out of recycled materials as a part of his story of escaping earth and finding new life on another planet (each child wrote their interpretation of this concept). Artplay by Federation Square has many events for the kids and they gave me info on workshops for teens and kids that we can check out in the future. Happiness is having access to all these creative fun adventures for the kids and me. The kids even met a threatened giant freshwater lobster from Tasmania, hanging out in the festival educating the crowds on environmental issues.
Sunday morning we met a friend and her kiddos at ACMI in the city. As the story goes… ACMI is the place where my hubby and I met volunteering all those many moons ago! Ever since then we have watched plenty of films, as independent arthouse cinema is what bought us together. It was so fun to take the kids to the screen gallery, which is full of video games and many cinema icons to explore. The kids found a virtual reality game they wanted to check out and it is a game where the city of Melbourne gets taken over by a comic book and you as the superhero have to save the city. Both of the kids really enjoyed it so I decided to check it out! Man, it was insanely real with having the ability to fly where you literally felt like you were going off the ground, going higher and higher. It was intense and I had to get back down to the ground as soon as possible as I realised I was on the top of a building and afraid of heights! I finally got to a ground level and it felt so much better and the experience left me with a bit of motion sickness from how real it felt, VR has really advanced in the time since I last checked it out at a dance party in the 90s.
Today I had a booking to get my hair cut and styled at a salon in Fitzroy – one of my fave parts of the city. I found Cherry Bomb Hair as I love the way they do colour but for today I was wanting to get a restyle and bring my curls back. My hair stylist Chloe asked for pics of what I was after and then she went to work on my dry hair and gave it some life again as I have been too busy to think about spending time at the hairdresser. It was a fun day out with a surprise shopping trip to a gorgeous art gallery space with local designer knitwear and screen printed fabric, absolutely stunning! Then after shopping, I was ready for a warm bowl of vegan ramen as it was typical Melbourne weather of rain, cool, sunshine, blue skies and not so warm on this summers day. It makes me so happy to be back here, just little things like catching the train brings a smile to my face – it is so good to be home again.
Well, the time finally came and the kids were off to school. I have to say it has been a bit hard for my son with the high school kids and their cliques and not being so open to making friends. Whereas the primary school community is small enough that my daughter has met some friends, which is great! As for myself, I have friends out of the local area which is wonderful but trying to break into an already established community is a bit difficult. I remember when I went over to the States and I did not know a soul and things do take time and in reality, I have only been here since the 20th January so it has not been that long at all! My daughter’s school is having a picnic next week so with some luck I can meet some other families.
The big change for me is that I do not have to rush home to study after the gym – so I am pretty happy that I have finished my last teaching period! It was really a struggle having to study and move to a new country at the same time. I received an academic achievement for my last subject Teaching and Learning in the 21st century which really helps as trying to keep going is tricky with everything that is happening in my life! So I keep it out to look at each day so I can stay motivated and keep going!!
I have been going to the gym and cardio classes and they are intense but with my excitement to be working out I injured myself and overdid my quads when I did a body pump class. My plan was to do weights every day until I decided that every second day will be better as I can do one of the machines on my rest day. It is fun to go to the gym and it is a friendly place too but it’s not like my lovely dance class full of friendly ladies. Time will tell and you are in the zone when exercising so I can just focus on myself and not really socialise – I will have to remember to bring my headphones and listen to some motivating music :D.
Last Friday I went to see our interior scheme for our house build and it was very exciting. The exterior of the house is burnt black and white brick and the colour will be inside the house. The bathroom will have the Terrazzo floor with blue, green and wood highlights. We are still on plan for the tender process mid-February and fingers crossed a builder can fit us into their busy schedules! Oh, and while I was visiting the architect in South Melbourne, I visited the market for the most delicious food and had a cauliflower and leek pie with salad and roast veggies – so good!
Walking around our neighbourhood and who do I find? My hubby, yay he is here for a couple of weeks but alas he is working. Lucky, we have one weekend to catch up with family and friends to enjoy ourselves before he heads on back to wrap up the rest of the stuff back in California. After school when we picked up the kids, I said, “hey, how about a pie?” so Missy and my hubby took up the offer and they were tasty.
It is nice to be in some sort of routine now where I walk to the kids’ school in the morning and go to the gym. The walk is only 20 minutes away to pick up the kids in the arvo and then they have some free time and then its homework time – Ash is doing some science homework here on his bed with pictures of friends and family on the wall for inspiration, including his Serama chicken Darkstalker. Later in the evening on cooler days when I can put the oven on I made this tasty silverbeet and heirloom cherry tomato pie. I am loving the food from Ceres Fair food as it is organic, fresh and local for most of their produce. They have an excellent selection of kombucha and non-meat products too which I love so that is my fruit and veggie shop sorted with the added bonus of the delivery to the door. Other bits and pieces I can get at Woollies and other places are a 10-minute walk away. I love this area as everything is so convenient. We don’t have a car as yet so with all this walking I am getting plenty of exercise and enjoying the sunshine and fresh air.
With time off from University, I now have time to go through all our stuff! I moved all the boxes from under the bed and now we are sleeping on the floor on a mattress just like student days – lucky its only short term! Anyway, I am taking the Swedish death cleaning approach and thinking that I have not cared about this stuff for the last 12 years so then why keep it anymore. I found cassettes and business cards that are going to the recycling next week – I do not even have a tape recorder so why keep them! There were a lot of business cards and told a story of my other life before kids as a designer and freelancing around Melbourne. It was interesting to look over them and see the names of people who I met at Uni and work, so it was helpful for me to think yeah that is where most of my friendships with peeps began.
The major reason why my post is late this week is that I have been going through a moving box full of photos. It has been exhausting going through all the memories some good and some not so good. Again I thought why do I keep these pictures as it will just be for my kids to clean up when I am gone and they will just chuck it all away, this way I can hopefully recycle it all including the negatives? This is just a handful of the photos I am sending away. Sitting there looking through the travel memories have been great thinking wow I really did that when I was only 23, I am a huge proponent for travelling when you are young as it helps you see the world to open your mind to so many life experiences. It really helped pave the way for my artistic career at the beginning with photography and writing. I also have a lot of 35mm slides and maybe I can make a light fitting out of them or repurpose them somehow – there are many ideas on Pinterest, so next time I have time to craft that is my next project. As for the photos they can go – the memories were great and now it is time for a new phase in my life.