Our House Build begins

This week the demolition began on our house. We met with our architect and builder on Monday and then our builder got his spray can out all over the house! Today (Saturday) we went to check out the progress, as the demolishers were at the house on Wednesday. So now you just see the frame of the front of the house (this is taken from the alleyway out the back) with a little bit of roof. There is still some more demo work to come next week, and it is very exciting. We will drop by again next weekend, and peek through the back fence to see what is going on as it is not safe for us to be at the site.

The rest of my time this week has been here at my desk studying away writing two papers. A 2500 word essay on socialisation and another 1500 unit plan for English. Man there has been no escape and now I am behind one week in my readings but I will have next week to catch up! I got this great screen to keep me hidden from distractions but still it is really noisy as I am right near the kitchen. The bonus is that I have the fridge right in front of me, which is great! I have had to do hand sewing or knitting. after dinner, as I have been hammered with too much time on the computer – researching, writing and editing. Every morning I have been going to the gym for a bit of stress relief and it really helps with sitting down most of the day – I do not think I could ever do an office job again in my life. Still I am enjoying myself with this B. Ed as it is so comprehensive, as a lot of the theoretical components I can totally relate to. My plants have been keeping me happy at home while I have had to keep my brain focussed with my fave store in Coburg is the health store with their collection of bush flower essences – aaaah, just breathe…

What I have been doing when I have not been studying? My Saturday morning is looking after the chickens at my sons High School. They are so fun as they have a friend, a big black pig called Gigi who always wants to eat everything!! The family enjoyed the antics today when I was feeding the pig, as I was trying not to step in big mud puddles and get some treats to the chickens. I have to plan some strategic moves with distracting the pig, with her treats, when I give some treats to the chickens! And of course, in the evenings making dinner is a little creative outlet where I have been enjoying the tortillas from La Tortilleria – where I found some great videos from them this week. This fish taco is a baked Hoki taco with a zucchini slaw, topped with BBQ sauce – tasty!

So I had better get back to business as my assignments are due Monday and I need to get busy tomorrow!

Winter thoughts

The time is slowly approaching and we will have been six months since we have been back home in Australia. Whoa the time has flown by and we finally feel like we have a handle on things. The only variable up in the air in the starting date of our house build and all I can say is that it is going to happen real soon! There have been many learning experiences which we have experienced over the last few months and because it is winter and time to ruminate, here they are:

Eat ramen as much as you can in winter though make sure to blend the shitake mushrooms through for a depth of flavour – oh and I gotta find that Kombu!
  • When moving back to your home country have a bit of a plan about where you will live – lucky we our friend offered their place for house sitting until we decided to move back into our vacant house.
  • When looking for rental properties make sure you check the glass and if it is not double pane, forget it! I know it is hard when looking for places to rent as it has to be the perfect fit but we are freezing here in our place as there are lots of windows in this house built in 1990. It is part of a bunch of cheaply built row houses and man we enjoy the location and get this – the electricity bill for 3 months was $1379!! We blame the electric wall heaters which suck up the power and we have been leaving them on overnight ๐Ÿ˜ฆ which is a bit silly.
  • Again this rental has had its issues with replacing the range hood, the oven is bad, the dishwasher is loud, the water heater had to be replaced and we were without hot water for two days, the water pressure is terrible when you have a shower and are doing the washing at the same time, the curtains need an extra layer to keep the cold out and the doors and windows are not sealed properly, so the wind blows in (I have made door snakes!). Still it is a house with space which is what we were looking for and we will make the most of it. This is an experience and we are noting all these problems so when our house is built we will make sure that these problems do not exist!
  • Watch for stupid laws like no animals at rentals, apparently the laws in Victoria have changed and a landlord cannot deny you without a great excuse but still we had it good in California at the fancy rental haven of Central Park with our pets.
  • Make sure everything you need is in walking/PT distance – I still do not have a car but I borrow them or catch an Uber which works but I am sure that the money is adding up for each trip. The problem I find with that is that it all takes time and that time cannot be reimbursed, therefore I lose valuable study/work time.
  • My study zone is now in the dining room right by a massive window which leads to the courtyard and it is freezing so I have had to add another curtain to the existing to keep the cold out – the landlord refuses to listen to our complaints of the broken curtain mechanism? When we were landlords we happily helped out our tenants with any problem but it seems that this guy is a tight arse, at over $600 a week he should be laughing to the bank.
  • I am grateful that we are close to school and the kids can walk, I can walk to the gym and I have found some cool classes to go to – I love my weights workout and running 5kms on the cross trainer (who knew I could run!!), the library is close, Office works has 8 cent copies for Uni printouts – which is a walk or $10 Uber ride away, we have the best felafel down the road, I love our new community, Aussies are so friendly and helpful, there is a super cool bike path by the creek or the railway line that goes for kilometres, I have some amazing local nurseries just a walk away, I found a happy place to volunteer at the community nursery, we get to look after chickens and a beautiful pig named Gigi, chickens are at school and the community garden and in general life is good and we are happy back in Melbourne.
  • Oh and patience is everything and if Plan A does not work out – be ready with Plan B.

I enjoy walking around the streets to explore because that is how I experience a city that I visit or live. And yesterday I got stuck on one side of the tracks because the train was coming so I decided rather than wait I will go up the path. So what did I find? Some street art, a community garden by the railway tracks and a cute little book library. I was on a mission to Office works so I stopped at the local cafe Eighth Nerve and enjoyed an amazing coffee – that is one thing to appreciate about being back here, the coffee is amazing and made with local almond milk!

I also know that living in Melbourne in winter it is damn cold but thank goodness for my knitting skills I am snug as a bug – when going outside I always wear a knitted hat, have my gloves on standby and wear a coat and you will be comfortable (just watch out for that wind!!) Overall I reckon the move back has been a struggle for all of us as we miss our friends in California and the amazing weather over there but that was a wonderful growth experience and now we are ready for our next phase in life. I promise we will really appreciate our new house when it is built ๐Ÿ˜€

Winter holiday in Queensland :: it’s a wrap!

For the last couple of days we enjoyed some cousin time with making some Legos and hanging out together. It had to be a low key experience as my nephew, just had an operation of getting his adenoids and tonsils out – so he was in recovery mode. This was fine with us and we enjoyed some downtime over lunch and cups of tea.

Our last day at the Sunshine Coast was spent climbing walls at Rockit climbing gym where I managed to get pretty high for someone scared of heights! We did auto belays which is so fun as you just drop to the ground gradually, though my landings were not as graceful as the kids. I reckon we will be doing more climbing after this experience – there are no pics unfortunately as everything had to be put away safely including jewellery. Afterwards we were starving after using so much energy to climb, so we went to Mint for a lovely lunch and some treats – check out this cabinet of goodness!

Later in the arvo it was time to head on over to the airport and after a quick walk by the ocean to say farewell to our relaxing time away. Where at night I got to watch Stranger Things 3 on my little biddy phone screen enjoying the soundtrack on my headphones! Here we are leaving the Sunny Coast at sunset and arriving Melbourne later that evening.

Settled finally for the next 12 months

Whoa what a big week my hubby flew in for good last Monday and since then we have been planning and packing our lil house to move to a rental property! On top of all that I am writing two papers for Uni and going on missions to collect a fish tank we bought on eBay. Deep breathing now and I am so thankful for the gym to help me manage the stress of moving and life and we are finally getting plans for the next 12 months done and dusted. Our house will be partly demolished and we started the process when we moved the monolith black fridge out the back door by chiseling out the door frame and taking off the back door – lucky for us we had some very innovative movers!

So over the weekend we packed everything away into boxes and transported our stuff Monday into a 10 tonne truck to our new house just down the road. On Sunday I had to do a mission in the arvo to collect a fish tank with its filter, light and pebbles to save our goldfish from the pond in the front yard as we are remodelling the kids did not think they would survive! When I got back the kids were pretty excited that we got a tank and we have now set it up in our kitchen, they now spend time watching the fish swim around – I had no idea the fish were so big! I said to them to watch some YouTube videos on taking care of goldfish because I don’t need the job of cleaning a fish tank too. I have been driving about in cars from Car Next Door and its been a great thing to do as you get to test drive cars and so far my fave has been a Toyota Prius Hybrid, hopefully in the future we will buy a hybrid. When we moved on Monday, I borrowed a car from our a neighbour who has a Subaru Forrester and it was so good to drive a Soobie again ๐Ÿ˜€ the bonus was when I went to pick up the car the owner had chickens in his front yard, so cool! And as of this weekend we get to look after the chickens and a pig called Gigi at my sons high school – so fun!

So I was on a mission to unpack and get things out of boxes into their places as having a messy space is not good for my mind. So here is the lounge with what we have managed to gather together to make it homely. We cannot hang our art on the walls as it is a rental property – boo! So I have used a tea towel my sister got me for my birthday and our IKEA cubby for our bags and I found the great granny square blanket at The Salvos, score! Next week our stuff from California will finally be delivered and thank goodness this is a 3 bedroom house with a garage so we can store everything here until our move again next year into our newly remodelled house. Though it looks like we will still have to get rid of more bits and bobs but until then I had better get back to my study…

It is just so nice to have a brain break and goals to work towards such as writing my blog or going out to buy another pot plant – oh yeah that is my latest collection (as I am decorating with plants rather than art prints). I am collecting pot plants for our new home, I have a goal to grow them here and have them ready to put into our new house next year and so far I have a rubber plant, a fiddle leaf fig, a few foxtail agaves (rescued from our backyard), some succulents and a monstera all inspired by Summer Rayne Oakes and her rescue chicken! Oh and she has the best tutorial for a vertical wall garden which I would love to do at our new house, which is made from guttering and a very cool watering system.

Oz Birthday Celebrations

Geez it has been a whirlwind couple of weeks and I totally missed my birthday celebration post! So here it is, as a quickie. I spent my first birthday in Australia for the first time in 8 years off to the optometrist to get some new glasses and grab a lovely Vietnamese lunch. I also enjoyed the treat of going to a brow bar to get my eyebrows waxed and dyed. In the arvo I came home and chatted my afternoon away to my friends (a call from CA) and family for birthday calls, until the kids came home. Then it was time for beet birthday cake and what cake fail that was! I loved the birthday candles and the song from the kids but the cake really needed a food processor and not a Nutri Bullet to get the right consistency, oh well live and learn. Now the beet cake has transformed into beet brownies.

Later in the evening I met friends at a bar which we soon realised was not very kid friendly as there were people smoking weed out the back so we hightailed it for something a bit more vegetarian and celebratory – The Vegie Bar in Fitzroy. I had not been there in years, and it was so good. The cool thing is that it has been around for 30 years, even before everyone was eating plant based. I enjoyed some vegan udon noodles with a ginger cocktail on the side and my friends and fam enjoyed a burger, nachos and pizza. They also some some delicious gnocchi on the menu that I will try next time I am there. Afterwards it was ice cream time next door at Girls and Boys where there were vegan treats, so good to have vegan ice cream though my hubby will not agree but I promised him a dairy based ice cream when he comes back to Australia at the end of April.

Oh and another reason why I have not been up to date with this was that as soon as my birthday was over I had to hit the books and complete my paper for Uni. Now I am procrastinating and writing this!

Creative city vibes

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.

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!

Settling into our new life

Our first week back was extremely productive unlike Mouse the cat (my sister in laws cat) here who is having a great little nap! We decided that we would move back into our yellow house until we get the OK for the builders, this is good in itself as I am gathering paperwork e.g. bills in my name for when we finally go and find a rental property.

Our house is so cute and it was so funny when I walked through thinking – hey this is like looking through a rental property, so why am I looking for a place when this is vacant! It was thanks to my sister in law to help me get my head around it all and relieve the stress of not having to find a rental property in 20 days! Anyway, the kids are pretty bored as I am having to study in between catching up with friends (they play with my friends’ kids) so they are screening it up either on Netflix, the small screens or the computers but I have an essay due on the 16th January so I gotta get into gear!

Last week I arranged to turn on the gas, power and water, bought a new fridge and washing machine and many other household items, organised the insurance for the house, got hooked up to the internet and did a huge grocery shop. There’s still a fair amount to do but I am staying at my friend’s place house sitting while they are in NZ and they have stuff in their house to use until I get back to our house. Starting all over again is huge and the next big ticket item is a car but that requires a fair amount of research and time which I do not have at the moment with my Uni deadline fast approaching.

We stayed at my sister in laws place for a few days before heading on over to my friends house and Missy did a bit of pasta making. She made linguine with my sister in law and it was just delicious with prawns and asparagus in a creamy sauce – yummo! The meat eaters ate a bolognaise mince sauce. The Kitchen Aid Artisan to make fresh pasta is $800 here so we will hold off for a while until all the other outgoing finances to set up are out of the way!

And along came the hottest day we have ever felt in ages! On Friday it went up to 42 degrees and man it was brutal. I found it really hard to focus as it was so hot and could not do my studies as I was wanting to hang out in the air conditioning and do nothing then towards the end of the day the temperature dropped 20 degrees and it was thundering and raining. Since that day the weather has been gorgeous mid-20s and a cool breeze. It has been so fun to hang outside on the deck with friends and drink tea or study.

As I am house sitting for a friend I am checking out a new part of Melbourne and it is great as I have found a library and an excellent Sri Lankan cafe selling pan rolls and many other delicacies – so that was our treat over the weekend. Missy found a meat pie at the amazing grocery market La Manna and we found a cray cray down at the park. This graphic novel Trish Trash is so fun and I could not resist when I found it at the library, hilarious!! I will have to read it once I get a study break.

It has been quiet here but I like it for a change as my mind has been so full of lists and getting organised to leave a country and start a new life. I am enjoying some time out and I feel like my body and mind needs a bit of a rest. Even though I am still studying and organising house stuff the Australians make it so much easier with their relaxed demeanour and their proactive attitude to get shit done that I really miss! Time to get back to business and catch up on my studies as I have a trip to the city tomorrow to meet a friend at the National Gallery of Victoria for a bit of play – yay!

The wonderful world of Oz

It has been only 4 days since we flew into Melbourne and separated our little Peach family as my hubby is taking care of business back in Cali so he can join us in April 2019. He will visit us in February and enjoy the time when the kids start their new schools and we will be in our rental house for the next 12 months. My mission for the first couple of weeks this year is to find a place to live that is close to the schools and the shops.

Bye bye baby girl Bella, this sweet kitty is enjoying all my woollen pieces while I was getting myself organised to head on back to Australia – she will join us in April 2019 when she is free to come here after all her rabies meds have taken effect and she has followed the whole procedure to get back to Australia. She will spend 10 days in quarantine and she will be back home with us, I have tried to FaceTime her but she is a bit confused ๐Ÿ˜ฆ

So many goodbyes to San Francisco even to our lovely little (chicken) ladies protesting for Goji Berries. We had a relaxing 15-hour flight from SFO with Qantas with the sweetest crew as a wonderful intro to our time home.

After a couple of days of feeling out of it we finally got round to New Years Eve with our family and enjoyed a delicious feast of smoked salmon, prawns, salads and pavlova for dessert. We are loving all the animals here with the dogs, cats and the chickens. It is so good to be back and feel grounded back home with my sister in law.

For new years day we all hiked at Mount Macedon and just to be in the bush and smell the trees and air made me feel so good. I realised I was home in nature and am looking forward to so much more exploring this beautiful country. Funny we had not experienced it before as our life was about hanging in the city, drinking at bars and going to the movies. Now with kids life is so different and we are ready for adventures and to replicate the camping and exploring we have experienced in California.

These beauties live on the farm where my sister in laws horses live. I see the unicorn horse, the beautiful pony and the cool horse with the fly mask. We are all looking forward to 2019 with so much excitement in our new lives back in Australia.