One day to go!

A good cup of tea is what I am needing each day as now I have just one day until we fly away! The last month has disappeared so fast with parties, travel, coffee and tea with friends, drinks and dinners. Last week I enjoyed more yoga classes than usual which helped me get myself organised about the move. There has been so much to do and the house is taking shape with stuff to be shipped, stuff to be donated/given away and luggage packed for the next 5 months until our stuff is shipped from SF. Whew, it has been quite a trek and the kitchen was organised by my hubby the other day when he said we need to minimise the number of bowls to useful items which I have to agree. My friend has the Vitamix and another friend has my food processor so it looks like I will be researching the Thermomix when I get back to Oz, my sister in law has one so I will be taking notes.

As we did not want to get stuff for Christmas we enjoyed our last family experience at Montalvo Arts Centre to see Bruce Munro Stories in Light. I really loved it though it was a bit chilly in the evening being there for the 7pm showing. It is a self-guided tour of the grounds with so many beautiful installations providing many photo opportunities. The scale of some of the pieces is breathtaking especially Reepicheep’s Wave. I am quite a fan of all the pieces and one of my faves was definitely Gathering of the Clans inspired by the artists time in Sydney with Hills Hoists and fluorescent acrylic pegs and the recordings of cockatoos.

It has been a low key couple of days but I have needed it to research my next essay for school for Teaching Science and Technology. It is a bit tough trying to find the headspace to study with everything else going on but I will get there as the essay is due January 14. I should have my draft done and maybe I will work on the 15-hour direct plane trip to Melbourne, I have a couple of knitting projects to do and have packed 3 bags so far – I hope it all fits in the car! Here’s to our new adventures back home in Melbourne 😀

Portland is keeping it real!

I am down to the last 6 days in the United States and it has been a whirlwind of goodbyes to many peeps I love. The sadness is still there but the excitement of going back home is becoming real. I have really been enjoying moments in time when it has been the last time. This is the 2nd last taco Tuesday I am having in California – it is the Kalee-fornia Fish Taco.

Last week I went to my last exhibition night with the school community I have spent the last 9 years with. It was a wonderful experience with the kids presenting their slides on the Native American tribes and seeing their building work presented in the STEAM room with Mr A.

Friday I went out the ballet with my friend to see The Snow Queen and here is the downtown Christmas tree just outside the theatre. That was the last time I would check out a show and it was so fun to be with my friend and see her daughter dance – Thank you for taking me!

Over the weekend I went on a trip to Portland to catch up with some friends and eat and get a tattoo. Here are a couple of dishes from Trinket – a plate of potato hash and duck eggs and avocado. And on the right from Holiday – a seasonal salad with a gluten-free vegetable tart so divine! I absolutely love the food in Portland vegan, gluten-free, seasonal and organic what my cafe dreams are made of!

Sunday evening we had a night out to the Blue Collar Wrestling which was a cultural experience and hilarious! The kids were wondering what happened to their Mum when I told them I went to a wrestling show. After the show, we went to The Alibi a super cool Tiki lounge that had karaoke on a Sunday night. We had our own little karaoke party at our booth while we drank the deadly fancy cocktails and ate burgers and fries. Being inside an original tiki bar is what this place is about, I loved it and had such a blast with my friends.

Monday came around all too fast and my friend took me to Proud Mary Coffee a cafe from Collingwood in Melbourne now in Portland. It was so good to have a flat white before I head on back to Melbourne next week. The food was amazing and I enjoyed this custard brioche pastry along with tastings of the savoury goodness my friends were eating. It was such a friendly atmosphere where we chatted to the owner and general manager about living in Portland, the future of the cafe (opening in Austin) and the cost of living in Melbourne.

After brunch I had an appointment at Scapegoat Tattoo studio with Cody Zeek – he also did my hummingbird tattoo many moons ago. Lying there feeling the pain of a “cat scratching sunburn” as Cody traced the lines of the tattoo. I am so happy with it as a homage to my time here in California.

Oh, and after the tattoo, I was starving so a friend recommended Tight Tacos with the two vegetarian options (he enjoyed a meat one). I had the cauliflower with harissa and the other seasonal veggies topped with the salsa and guac it was delish and the perfect post tattoo feed. Later on, it was time to head on back to the bubble of the Bay Area with tech geeks and no flavour – Portland was keeping it real, Viva la Resistance!

Tuesday I came back and it was all on with the holiday boutique with the kids where my friend suggested I get them to sell my stock at a massive blowout sale and I am glad I did. So then the sales went back to the school, yippee everyone wins and I have no more stock to take with me!

I will miss these little farm animals here as we are enjoying every minute with them as we have one more week and we say farewell to the lovely ladies and the beautiful black barn cat.

And finally, it was time to say farewell to my school community at Stevenson Elementary School, this place will live in my heart for all the inspiration and creativity in education. Inspiring me to become an educator. One of our teachers got the kids to make these cool decorations out of cans the other day. Today on her last day of school for a month, Missy graduated with a quick ceremony with her 5th-grade cohort and her teacher put a cat background on the TV! Super special love for the 9 years of the community at our amazing school, the educational foundation our kids have experienced is something we will treasure forever.

The final countdown

The countdown is upon us and each day is flying by so quickly. I am in such an emotional rollercoaster at the moment as I am so happy to be going back to Melbourne but very sad to be leaving so many cool peeps. But the good thing is I will be home! There are going to be some huge hurdles, especially with everything plus study. My major problem at the moment is finding a rental property in Melbourne where we are remodelling so its easy for the kids to get to school. I am manifesting a lovely place close to the schools where we can walk to easily and has great access to the shops as I will not be getting a car as yet. Having to start all over again is not a very exciting prospect but it is going to be another adventure in the kids’ lives and for me, I will be so happy to be back in Australia. California has been a fun place to live but I am so ready to be with my family again. There are friends here who feel like family which is wonderful. I have really missed being with my family and sharing special times over the last 12 years, it is going to be so good to reconnect again. 

At the end of last week, my friends organised a farewell party with some incredible food and an 80s dance party complete with my friend DJ/VJ Nik. We had such a fun time together dancing to many 1980s songs, dressed in our 80s outfits, after we had filled our bellies with some delicious Indian food – I mean look at that amazing table of delicacies!! We have known each other since the kids were preschoolers so it was such a special way to say farewell and I am sure our crew of travellers will come and visit down under one day. I am so grateful for having such thoughtful and special friends. As part Sri Lankan I am an honorary member of the crew – we have always enjoyed going out for birthday dinners and have shared many a delicious cocktail together. I will miss each and everyone! 

My house is looking very bare with all the pictures taken down and now I am ready to pack my bags. The fridge is white again after I took all my magnets off and the furniture is being slowly given away on NextDoor. The study with all my craft/study/books in it is being slowly whittled away as it has been so hard to give away fabric and all my craft stuff but I think, “would I make something out of this in the next 2 years?” So the usual answer is, “Maybe not!”

Managing time will be interesting next year especially the beginning of the year with the two kids, me and study. Looking for a rental will be high on the agenda and once that is done I can hopefully fit in time to write my essay due on the 14th January (I have to get my head into being in the same time zone!). I am going to take a bit of a break this weekend and go visit friends in Portland!! My whole being has been swept away into organising, giving away, moving stuff on, cleaning out and finally going to Hope Services to donate boxes of our stuff. I still have the plants to give away but I can leave some jobs for my hubby – I need to concentrate on organising the bits that I want to take with us and hopefully it will fit in the house. But the plan is to make the study into a room so movers can come in and put it into boxes. Then they will send it away on the $6K container to travel to Melbourne. The cat now has her import permit but has about 7 more steps to follow with the Australian Government rules on bringing her back to the country, my hubby’s job. I think once I have gone through this sweep of cleaning the study this will be it. After Portland, it will be serious business of getting stuff into my cases to take with me to live out of for the next 5 months or so which means there definitely needs to be a coat in there with Melbourne’s weather. Currently, it is summer and pouring with rain. 

Oh, and it is Christmas too very soon but that is something that the family has to forgive me for as this whole move is taking up most of my thoughts and energy. So I do not think Santa will be bringing stuff into this house this year – our gifts are the experience of flying away direct for 15 hours direct to our home city. Friends have told me that I am brave to be doing this but even though I have called California home for the last 12 years, your home will always be where your heart is. And my heart is back in Australia. 

The excitement of remodelling our house is happening in 2019 as well but I will think about the first step of getting back first, settling down and then school for the kids. After all that, the build will start and I absolutely love the design of the house it will be amazing to actually have a comfortable house to live in. Where we are now there is no insulation so we wear coats in the house in the winter and its like having air con inside in the summer. I have really enjoyed this house, but to live in a house that the whole family has their own space with a place we can entertain with the open plan living we always dreamed of will be a reality is very exciting. I am also imagining the chickens in the garden and the cats (the kids and I hope to adopt more cats!) around the place and having a BBQ (I never BBQ as I am a vegetarian!) with some wine and friends, just like here. It will be good to be back again, who knows what else the future will hold? I feel I will be truly happy again. 

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.

I’m free to do what I want any old time – not really, though the idea is exciting!

It was the first week off for mama time in 10 weeks – it was just pure ecstasy to be able to have some freedom to create and work in my sewing room. My ideas were overflowing and the motivation to make something an all-time high, which is probably why I made two skirts and a top just to experiment! I really love the style of this skirt as I have always enjoyed the skirts my daughter wore effortlessly with zero zippers and an elastic waist – I love the waistband on the front of this skirt as it reduces the number of gathers in the front. I do really love the big floral skirt with the hand gathering at the front waistband, it is such a fun skirt to wear maybe a bit short for me!

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Repurposed waterproof skirt, score it at Etsy

The Polar Bear fox skirt is a beautiful print in a thin corduroy fabric. I was making a bigger size so I can have a range of sizes available. I love this fabric and am sad to let it go – so check out the sizing if you like animals and spoil yourself with a one of a kind skirt for next season. Both these prototype skirts I am selling at my Etsy store, so see the links above and if you want free shipping with that, go to the contact link on my blog and I will send you a code to use.

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As I love the yellow top that I wore for these skirts I wanted to replicate it as a top for all skirts – this is in a tee shirt style that I was experimenting with so I will try it with another fabric and see how it turns out. I have used a continuous bias binding on the neckline and the sleeve detail and I love how easy it was to create the bias binding using a tutorial from Craftsy.

I really enjoyed my time to create and  I listened to a wonderful audiobook I recently discovered called Big Magic – Creative Living Beyond Fear which was an excellent resource to get me back into the swing of things. Now whenever I am working I will just put an audio book on and work away – as long as I am not writing! What a great way to multi-task! I am now listening to To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee, so groundbreaking for its time and kind of surreal to listen to living here in the USA where times have “supposed” to have progressed in regard to racism.

On to a more food orientated topic and assistance with working efficiently. I found my fave cafe downtown sells a flat white. So I wandered in to meet a friend and talk about her summer vacation in Italy and our vacay in Australia. I ordered the flat white, check out the pic above and guess which one is the flat white? The American style flat white is the one of the right! Now to me coming from Melbourne I expected a flat white to look like the coffee on the left, which is a cappuccino! The flat white they made was perfectly fine but it was a bit low on the foam at the top and at least it did not burn my mouth which is why a flat white is my favorite. Now I know for the future that I will order the cappuccino with soy and see what I get, fingers crossed I can get it the way I am used to!

 

Adding to the fun of getting back to a somewhat normal week where the kids are at school and I am at home working on my creative projects – let me say it again, heaven! We have had to work into our schedule on a Thursday to go to the farm to clean out the chicken coop – which is a kids job and as their payment they get to hang out with the chickens and the pigeons and quails as much as they like. Hanging out with the birds is a great motivator for them and they get their job done – so far it has been an hour to complete the cleaning and feeding of the coop and the aviary and with some luck, they will reduce that time!

Here is Ruby in all her teenage glory looking good as the Production Little Red Hen that she is. We are looking forward to next March after the chickens are 12 months old they will start to lay eggs. Missy is in the aviary holding the cutest little male quail – we are looking for some females if anyone has any hanging around? Then we can have little teeny weeny quail eggs. The kids got to keep the pigeon eggs and bantam eggs as a cleaning reward the other day and enjoyed them for a tiny breakfast the next day.

What a week it was and I was so happy to have had a weekend of doing nothing after the holidays of planning stuff with friends and family over the summer – farewell to the summer holidays and let’s get on this hamster wheel of craziness!!