Treasure or trash – seeing the light after 12 years

Last week we hung out in our house awaiting the old and the new. First I had to get a fridge and washing machine delivered to the house but because the door frame at the house is so tiny the fridge would not fit through the door! Drama #1 meant what do I do about getting a monolith fridge into a small house? Luckily we had some quick thinking delivery dudes who called up their mate to come and take the doors off the fridge and bring it into the house! Next was Drama #2 the shipping container that held a box of our stuff from 12 years ago!! The kids were very excited as they thought there might be some treasure in those boxes but no – they were disappointed as the boxes were mostly full of trash – oops I mean, memories and mementoes of our past life. Funny thing is we have lots of book boxes that I am using as a bed base for now – so I don’t need to look through them. Plus there are so many VCR tapes but luckily I found someone who can recycle them and take most of this stuff away.

We have been enjoying our little day trips into the city by train as it is only 30 minutes away and so easy to get to. The Australian Open is in full swing today so we got in nice and early so we could go to the NGV to see the Escher exhibition nice and early Between Two Worlds.

Going to an exhibition with the kids can seem a bit daunting especially when they go in and are not so thrilled to wander in a crowded space and look at the art on the walls. This exhibit was different as it began with a digital walkthrough in the dark to the beginnings of Escher’s work by travelled through each space or period of his life. For me it was so exciting to actually see these prints in real life! I have been a long time Escher fan stemming from my background in Graphic Art.

A space that I loved was the Transforming House space where the houses were designed and inspired by tessellation. It is phenomenal how the elements of negative and positive space within a tessellation mess with your mind. This is a lesson of instructions Escher created to share to students on a complex design on tessellations.

Gathered House was another fave space of mine where I felt totally disorientated as to where I was going next. It was an installation in a circular room where you looked at the artwork on many perspectives to form the shadow of a house it was so incredible when you look at the detail of die cut paper.

Soon it was time to end the exhibition which was sad, I will have to say it has to be one of the best exhibitions I have been to in a very long time! The whole immersion of the space and the artwork including a soundscape and a video really captured the feeling of each period in Escher’s artistic path. At the end of the exhibit, before we hit the gift shop there was a room dedicated concept pieces for the nendo art spaces and his overall theme of the house shape (I bought a cap for the memories). In the end, the kids were so excited to share their pictures with their dad and friends and loved the whole experience, they especially loved the interactivity of the exhibit and that is something we all loved by being able to play in the space.

It has been two weeks back and I am happy to say that everything is falling into place with where we are going to be living including our plans for our house build and the kids’ school. I still have to motivate myself to study but for now, I got an extension on my essay as I am taking breaks in between organising the move into our house. Still, it is so hot that it is nice to stay inside in the air conditioning. Next stop study and for brain breaks, it is will be time in the garage sorting through stuff! Anyone looking for some crystal glasses? How fancy!

Food In LA and Good Times

The best papusa at Saritas at Grand Central Market
Thanksgiving with our friends in O-town
Calligraphy
Matcha Latte in SLO
Inspiration by Murakami
Vegetarian Sushi on Sunset
Sunset at Echo Park Lake
Swan on Echo Park Lake
Exercise with the Swan
Beautiful Coral bark tree
Yayoi Kusama at The Broad
Latte at Grand Central Market
G&B Menu 
Inside G&B Menu
Finally made it to Grand Central Market
Outside little pine – Moby’s vegan restaurant
little pine – a beautiful vegan restaurant
Dessert with praline at little pine
Gingerbread cheesecake at little pine
Dear animals at little pine
little pine vegan menu
Guisado’s tacos
Palm trees on the Hollywood trail
History of okonomiyaki
Okonomiyaki on the hotplate in Little Tokyo
Artwork in Silver Lake
Fam Bam at our friends pad
Avocado toast at Paso Robles
Walt Disney concert hall

A Few Days in LA

For our last family adventure in California, we did a road trip to LA to see what we could find. The itinerary was influenced by the film La La Land and advice from friends about where to go, what to eat and what to check out. 

We decided to do the scenic route on the 101 to find places to stop off and stretch our legs and have a break. The first stop was Paso Robles for lunch and we found this great spot called Brunch where I found some delicious avocado toast with sprouts and balsamic, it was so good. At this cafe, we also bought some treats from the attached cheese shop with a salted baguette made by a local baker and local cheese to take to our friend’s house in LA. 

Saturday: We arrived in LA and visited some friends of ours who moved away from the Bay and enjoyed some time with them and had dinner together – it was so good to catch up! Later we checked into our Air Bnb the Habana Hut in Silver Lake and enjoyed a good nights sleep in a gorgeous spot high on a hill.

Sunday: Waking up the next morning we wandered down to the local 365 by Whole Foods Market to get supplies and have breakfast – just a walk away. In the afternoon we took a Lyft over to Little Tokyo in downtown LA for the kids to check out the fun stuff. I have never seen so many Pusheens in my life! While we were there we got into The Geffen Contemporary at MOCA for free admission on the weekend, so it was a great score. The gallery Space was incredible and I loved the artwork, the rest of the family was a bit undecided as they were saying how is this art? For me, I have been suffering from a huge lack of culture and art so this was super exciting for me that I was chatting to all the staff about the art pieces and the artists. 

Monday: Our plan for was to hike to the Hollywood sign and the kids really did not want to do an 8-mile hike so I did a bit of research and we started the hike from the Charlie Turner Trailhead at the Griffith Observatory car park and we did about 2.5 miles in and out as the kids were bored. The track was lovely and wide but take a hat and a snack as the whole trail is exposed, in the summer it would be so hot! On our way back we took in the view from Captain’s Roost, a selection of fire-charred palm trees surrounded by spectacular succulents including a fire stick bush and massive agave, it was so cool to see them. After we came back to the car park we enjoyed some time wandering around the Griffith Park Observatory (note, it is closed on Monday) to enjoy some photo opportunities and the incredible views of the expanse of Los Angeles. 

Enjoying our relaxing time at the observatory checking out the building and the artwork we found a hummingbird and Ash was very keen to make friends with this guy! I managed to get in for a closeup shot and then an action shot of a hummer giving Ash a flash before flying off into the distance.

After the little hike and wander to Griffith Observatory, we drove down to Los Feliz to the Fern Dell trail. This little trail was briefly featured in La La Land it was a cool location to discover and explore for some interesting foliage and trees and the kids enjoyed looking for goldfish and crayfish in the little streams. The cute red squirrel was a rare sight for me as I only see the grey ones on the redwood tree in my back garden – this guy is praying to be invisible to the dog.  Oh and after a hike, we enjoyed some tacos at Guisados in Echo Park – highly recommended by a local, where the tortillas were fresh and fish and vegetable tacos were delicious. 

One thing I really enjoyed about LA is the street art everywhere – it reminds me a lot of Melbourne with their laneways of murals created by local artists. The kids enjoyed the fact that artists are commissioned to create art for the streets. I love this Audrey Hepburn mural that we discovered when we wandered into the Toy District of DTLA. 

Tuesday: We packed in around four stops on our trip to downtown LA beginning with booking tickets for The Broad a month ago. So before we hit the gallery the plan was to go to Grand Central Market and check out the food and of course, coffee! To get to the market we took a Lyft to Angels Flight – a cute little funicular tram that took less than a minute to travel downhill, the kids enjoyed it very much and at $1 it was just fine! At the market, I found the tastiest latte made with almond-macadamia milk and served in a 10 oz glass, just the way I like it. From our coffees, my hubby and kids had tacos and horchata then we wandered down to The Last Bookstore for lots of fun photo opportunities and an excellent selection of books! The second floor also had many artist studios with artwork for sale. Oh and we briefly wandered into the Bradbury building to get a feel for history and see where some scenes from Bladerunner were filmed and we did all of this before lunch! 

After lunch we had our tickets to The Broad, I was so happy to be there and see the art that I had only read about in art history books for real. Plus the building itself is spectacular outside and in. To get tickets for this gallery is to book in advance where the tickets are available one month in advance and it is completely free! Now, where on earth can you experience this dream of visiting rooms of contemporary artists in such splendour. The huge sculpture by Nancy Rubin outside is by the MOCA and to us, it looked like a chicken. The kids were done with galleries by this time but if you are alone it would be the perfect end to the day.  Though we did zip across the road to see the Walt Disney Concert Hall which is another marvel of architecture – those pics are on my phone which I need to upload soon. 

Wednesday: On our way home we drove by the hills burned by the fires in Ventura and stopped at Rincon Island (a now-defunct oil drilling platform with a super long jetty). I can see why it was shut down due to pollution as the water there is beautiful and clear and full of life with anemones and mussels by the bunch with a beautiful stretch of beach looking towards Rincon Point known for its perfect surf. 

I had no expectations of our trip to LA and I had heard from friends that they either loved it or hated it. My experience is that I loved it and really enjoyed our experience there with so much to see in such a sprawl and from what I did see I really enjoyed the art and food with no shortage of vegetarian options! One standout was Little Pine a vegan restaurant owned by Moby with all the proceeds going to animal organisations (I found out about it on Insta). It was a dream come true for me going to a vegan restaurant, the food was delicious and filling and the desserts were so tasty – so if you ever go make sure you order wisely and save room for dessert.

I have no idea why I have not spent more time in LA in the twelve years I have been living here but hey better late than never.

Arts with some crafts

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Yes, we can be bigger together, and it was such a big week of amazing art and time with incredible talented children! My friend, a ceramic artist, volunteers with our school and made this beautiful display of student work inspired by the book BIG by Coleen Paratore.

In addition to the ceramic works here are a few of my faves at the show – at tribal mask made in the 3D class, a dragon made in the materials class and a picture on wood in the photography class. Of course, there was so much more art I loved, but I was too busy chatting with friends and socialising to get more pics!

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Thursday was the second arts focus class, and our amazing class of lots of enthusiastic sewers made some beautiful octo-pie from yarn.

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This talented 5th grader made a super cool cat hat out of fleece that I will feature in the art show.

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Another of young student made her octopus with help braiding from a 5th grader.

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This is an extra project made by a 5th grader who chose to be in sewing – I am so happy to see such creative and talented sewers ready to work with a needle.

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In my kinder class, the kids are working on ideas for a dollhouse and this is what they came up with for the kids working with blocks, and they have included their little dolls in the scene too. This is a wonderful way to explore architecture.

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These two rascals enjoyed chicken time on Monday with the yin and yang chickens Luna and Snowflake.

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And I am counting the time until my oven is fixed – the heating element broke last Thursday, and since then I have been trying to get it fixed when some clowns said they would charge $400 to fix it when the part alone is $70 now that is extortion. So my hubby said he could fix it for me though let’s see how that unfolds, till then I have to be creative with the sandwich grill as I used that to grill the fish for Taco Tuesday today.

Anyway here is our delicious wild salmon rice bowl from Monday night as I wanted something easy for a Monday and a rice cooker is an excellent option of cooking while making something else – like the crispy salmon skin and salad.

 

Myths and Legends

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What a lovely collection of books and placing Myths right next to the Orwell book 1984 is pretty funny as 1984 does not really feel like a myth anymore! Still, the legends are the books next door a bunch of Star Wars parody books – yes more humour is what we need. Now on to last week that went by in a flash! It was a night of teaching double drawstring bags at the library followed by my birthday then a night out to the Arts Focus exhibition, and then Thursday night it was PBL (Project Based Learning) night and Open house at school. Friday night I still had to polish up my science essay so I could submit it this week! Just too much – I think I need to stop and breathe, which is why I went to Yoga on Saturday!

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The double drawstring bag sewing workshop at the library was a hit with a full class of 12 students who were eager to get their bags completed. We have 1.5 hours in the community room – so it is over pretty quickly. A lucky few did get them done, but lucky the library has open hours for sewing over the weekend and during the weekend for the students to complete their bags. The prep for this workshop is just cutting the fabric to size, and lucky my friend gave me a box of fabric I could use for this class that was just perfect.

Myth – I do not like alcohol! I have not been drinking as I need a clear head to write essays and focus on my University work, but it was lovely to have just one cocktail and feel pretty good! A fact I do love food, feeling uninspired by the Bay Area offerings for food locally I opted for a ‘sustainable seafood’ restaurant called Pacific Catch that opened up in the local shopping centre. Ideally, I am wanting one of those fantastic Portland restaurants that serve alcohol and raw vegan, local, organic food, but alas that is not to happen here, it’s more about the beers and the burgers – boring! Anyway, I will be back home in Melbourne soon and the food there is the best. Still, I had a lovely feast at Pacific Catch with some appetisers starting with some Poke – absolutely delicious! The coconut shrimp – very moreish but not too good for someone who doesn’t eat fried food too often. My main was fish tacos served with black beans and creole fries, yummo! Though the fries had to be passed on to my hubby and the kids as they were too much fried goodness for me. Afterwards (as there were no real exciting dessert options at this restaurant) we wandered downtown Mountain View to my fave treat place – Alexanders Patisserie and had a lemon tart and some other incredible mascarpone based deliciousness! Such a lovely evening of eating with the family 😀

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My friend’s ceramics exhibit

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The beautiful cat quilt – the group work

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The dragon and fire quilt – the other group work

 

Wednesday was another night out with the Arts where I have a job of interviewing the kids for a newsletter article about the joys of the Arts Focus program. A program entirely run by parent volunteers who teach in the classroom for 12 weeks of the year – with an exhibition in between each one. A totally immersive hands-on experience with art that the kids absolutely adore. I am so happy to be a part of the team and teach the kids sewing. This program has inspired me to do my Degree in Teaching for when we return to Australia, though I have less than 4 years or so to completion. I am enjoying the classes, and it is quite exciting to use what I have experienced and bring it to my lessons. I am learning so much new information, and I love it. Now back to writing my World of Maths essay about ‘How Constructivism is the best way to teach math.’

We are a community

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Last week was the final week of our Arts Focus classes at our school, it is always a fun ride for the 12 weeks of the year with the art show after the first session of 6 weeks. Following on is the second six-week session, and the art show will be on view at City Hall beginning next week. I have my class of 26 kids artwork on show, and this time I managed to get a broad range of pieces from hats, fabric collages, pipe cleaner dolls, embroidery, Felt LED cuffs and Felt Animals. The quilts are just beautiful with is super cool cat fabric and a dragon quilt as well – thanks to the parent volunteers of the sewing team who choose and sew up the quilts for this session. The quilt will be offered for bids at the Silent Auction to the parents of the kiddos who were in the sewing class.

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I always enjoy what the kids create, and this time we had some extra time, and they could make another project focussing on their stitch work and embellishing. The hat and the bunny were created by kindergarten children who used their stitches in an interesting way. The bear in the centre pic is made by a 2nd grader who took great pride in her work. I love to see anyone enjoying the needle arts and to see kids stretch themselves by experimenting is such a joyful experience!

Speaking of seeing experimental needle arts in action…  Monday I taught a sewing workshop at the Mountain View Public Library on making a small purse from repurposed interior design fabric from FabMo. The fun part is always seeing what fabrics people choose for the purses – this project only needed 3 pieces. I like to see how people matched or mismatched their fabric to get the desired effect. I have worked with these fabrics for a long time, and it took me ages to feel free working with a tonal collection of fabrics or even just mixing the patterns. The class was 12 adults and about a quarter of the class completed the project in the 1.5-hour class – a lot of time was spent deliberating on the fabric choice! Still, once it is on the sewing machine, this project is a breeze.

I will leave this week with my International Women’s day, A day without a woman picture. The Pussyhat project wanted to see some hats up on their website for the day, so I found my rainbow and pink pussyhat. To go with the rainbow theme, I found this delightful picture my daughter made for me years ago with rainbows and black crows. It seemed relevant for the moment showing that no matter how many black crows (or darkness) is on the horizon there is always love and rainbows. I enjoy being part of a community be it at the library or my school, and we work together for the common good of all – now and always. Peace xo

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Exploring Beauty

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With all the wonderful rain we have been having our Sunday family day was an inside affair with a trip to the San Jose Museum of Art to check out the Beauty exhibition. I have been studying for an exam on literacy and math as part of the degree program I am undertaking for Education – apparently, it is a new initiative by the Australian Government to examine the skills of potential educators. A lot of the work is for me to revise a lot of the concepts and will come in handy for my next units of math and science and thank goodness for Khan Academy helping me understand some of the math concepts that have completely left my mind.

Rather than spending my weekend away revising on the computer, I granted myself a break in exchange for working in the evenings. It was so refreshing going to a gallery and checking out art that I can totally relate to in this exhibit covered the gamut of design including industrial, textile, scientific, graphic, fine art, fashion, technological and architectural.  The exhibit was the Cooper Hewitt Design Triennial and brought together innovative designers from around the world and really appealed to my design background. I especially loved the fine arts, technological and fashion design.

A couple of my favourite pieces included some 3D printing inspired by the interior of bones. To the right is an amazing blown glass sculpture with incredible detail which to me looks like intestines.

As I love textiles and fashion I enjoy checking out the innovation in the industry I found these a the show. A jacquard woven wool tapestry with incredible detail by the Finnish designer Kustaa Saski using a combination of rubber, acrylic, lurex, and phosphorescent yarn with mohair and cashmere wool.

The white crochet armour was so detailed I wonder about the math that went into designing the pattern. Next to the crochet was this incredible printing technique by a company out of the Netherlands, Vlisco who specialise in Dutch wax prints popular in West and Central Africa and made using an industrialised version of the Indonesian batik process. The prints are created in conjunction with local African traders who suggest colorways or themes to Vlisco. I really enjoyed seeing this much colour together, and I had always enjoyed African textiles when my friend married her husband from Mali she came back to Australia with this incredible collection of clothes from Africa that I absolutely adored.

The skirt with the pyjama top was breathtaking with that amount of fabric on the skirt, and the design of the top is something I would love to create for a summer top. I loved the details in the skirt with the changes in colour gradations, and I just love the combination of colours! The final pic

The image with the detail was created by a student from Central St Martin’s in London who uses plastic in her work – the skirt was made of ruffles of plastic including the detail on the blouse creating a three-dimensional effect.

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The exhibition continued upstairs where I found a collection the Haas Brothers from Los Angeles. This was the first time I had seen their work, so the impact of the colour attracted me to investigate further. Their collection was entitled the Afreaks series created in conjunction with the Haas Sisters in South Africa – using a specific beading technique. Their work is highly sought after and these guys are true renaissance men with their knowledge of various artistic and traditional techniques.

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To complete the visit to the gallery the San Jose Museum of Art has an exhibition entitled Your Mind, This Moment – art and the practice of attention. This is a peaceful part of the gallery that encourages you to sit down and admire the art and embrace the space of meditation.

Our family day out was enjoyed by the kids and as this was the last day of the Beauty exhibit we were very lucky to have had the opportunity to see it. The kids always rush through exhibitions, but at least there were some interactive pieces for them to enjoy and introduce them to art and technology. Hopefully, we can have more of this art here in this valley as it is something that I feel I have to travel to the city to get my fix of inspiration!

Serendipity

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Happenstance – serendipity, all those wonderful unexplainable events that happen in your life that generally are good intentions. This is what happened with this skirt as I happened to take a break from essay writing this week to fix a pair of pants. When I am with my new sewing machine, it starts to take me on a bit a creative ride, and as I am just sitting next to it writing assessments at the moment, it was a great excuse to make something. So I went through my basket of unfinished objects and found the top of a pair of jeans that I was going to make into a bag. I love those bags, but unfortunately, even though they were such a novelty they made a great talking point at craft fairs, though no one was very keen to purchase one – live and learn on that one! Anyhow this skirt came to be via a pair of old jeans and an unfinished skirt I made for Missy when she was a baby?!? I like how it has turned out, but the problem with this is that it is a little big still it was the joy of making something that made me happy yesterday!

What other joy and happiness came to me this week? Tuesday I was teaching at the local library my usual monthly event started up for this year – we will be doing the last class in June and starting up again after the summer. This month is a Valentine craft, and we made felt heart pins from a bunch of buttons, trim and embroidery floss. The tutorial is here on this site if you would like to make one of your own. What the world needs now is love so it was a perfect craft to do and everyone was very creative with their hearts and most of the class of 14 made 2 each. Next month we will be making a clutch from repurposed 8″ squares of interior design fabric – gotta start writing the tutorial soon!

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I also was very lucky to be looking after my friend’s cat for the weekend this little black guy is such a love bug and really appreciated the pats and the company when his humans were away. Any excuse to be with animals for me at the moment, they are so loving!

And another wonderful random act of happenstance happened on Friday when I rewarded myself a trip downtown to Oren’s Hummus Shop for lunch with a friend who I hardly see anymore because she is studying too! I love the falafel there, and the hummus is so creamy and delicious. Afterwards, we were so full we went for a wander downtown and went to City Hall to check out this inspiring CSMA (Community School of Music and Art) Art Exhibit. The classes are taught by CSMA teachers in local schools including our school. The work from our 5th-grade class was artwork inspired by human rights and boy they were powerful! The art teacher created the watercolour with the V to discuss tenants rights here in our own city. The ‘Measure V’ bill for rent stabilisation, is still under contention (the latest news it is being challenged by landlord advocates!) FYI the rent here is already way above market rate, and still, they want more!! I have lost many friends who have moved out of the area because it is so expensive to live here yes close to $2,000 for a 650 square foot, 1 bedroom apartment per month – insane!

Sorry, I digress… anyway my friend, and I was really inspired by the artwork by the children at City Hall and how powerful art can be in the classroom for reflecting on what is going on in the world. My favourite piece is this white woven wall hanging with the many textures, I am a textile lover, that I might have to get my yarn and roving out and make one in colour! We will see as I have many other things to do in the meantime… including studying for my maths and literacy exam for my teaching degree!!

Riding into the Holidays

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This weekend was a bike celebration weekend starting with a SVBC (Silicon Valley Bicycle Coalition) party on Friday night and then our own Safe Mountain View holiday party on Sunday. I found this great poster from when I was in Australia where “A metre matters”  when driving by a cyclist that is 0.09 less than a yard so maybe here in the US they can start creating posters where ‘A Yard Matters’ and have a picture of a SUV next to a cyclist to promote bicycle safety on the road. First we need to see more green paint and some protected bike lanes which leads me to….

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Safe Mountain View (who I vounteer with) who is an independent pedestrian and bicycle advocacy where “We envision a network of safe trails, and bike boulevards that enable children and families to get anywhere in Mountain View and beyond by cycling or walking. This network will connect neighbourhoods to schools, parks, the public library, nearby shops and restaurants, and public transit”. I joined my friends Cherie and John on this mission and we are trying to make this a reality in the future. In fact our night ride the other night to the party was loads of fun and I suggested we have our board meetings on the bike 🙂

We had our party on Sunday at a friends house (who were generous enough to offer their house for the event). We had about 30 or so people come and chat about the dream of having protected bike lanes in Mountain View and to have 35 miles of connected trails by 2025. We have a council member chatting to a founding member of Safe Mountain View, Pat on the left and John on the right is chatting to my hubby about the future on the roads with protected bike lanes. So many European countries have this in place so to have protected bike lanes on the road is possible – let’s make it happen!

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Thursday we had our LED Cuff making day in the Arts Focus class and the kids absolutely love it. We always need extra volunteers with this project as it is really important to follow the directions carefully so the light comes on and the project works. This green LED cuff is by one of the kinder kids who embellished it with a little heart – he was so happy!

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I have been sharing making skills with my friend Cristiana from Pebble and Fire we have been sharing ceramics and sewing tricks. This time Cristiana wanted to make a table runner with a little pocket for a napkin and the cutlery out of this super beautiful fabric from Harts Fabrics in Santa Cruz. It looks fabulous with this setting and it came out so well, to be honest I did not know how it would look or sit on the table until I saw the pic and it’s perfect.

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Saturday was another holiday show over at Graham Middle School with friends of mine from the community who make these super cool craft kits – check them out at Kraft Kaboodle. I wanted to buy a gift for one of my sewing students who had a birthday party on the weekend. The added bonus was that I bought their next kit which is a beautful flower petal ball that is perfect for the holidays, I think I will take it with us on our winter break and make it for the tree. The excellent thing about it is that it teaches the running stitch by using pins to pin the petals on the stryfoam ball and it is such a beautiful finished product. As for my booth down the end of the aisle with my textile bags, hairbands, glasses pouch, coin purses and clothes with $5 infinity scarves and 20% off still could not draw in the crowds – it was a quiet day but the fact that my product was not in the stocking filler bracket of $5 and under it was a tough sell. Still each show I will learn from my experiences and with my plate full of study at the moment as soon as this stock is done so am I. It is nice to be walking a different path – time to sew just for fun!