Wishing you a very merry Chrissy

Finally, I have some time to write what have been going on for the last couple of weeks. It seems like a while ago, so here goes! There has been a lot of awesome Chrissy celebrations with my work friends and then I got a cold from late nights studying writing an essay, going to work early, hanging out with kids and their germs and feeling run down. So last weekend was pretty quiet, which gave me time to catch up on wrapping prezzos and all that jazz. Then came the last week of my teaching placement, which was intense as it was all about wrapping up so all the kids work, placing their crafts in their goodie bags, getting the kids ready for the singing presentation to their families with a fabulous spread of food and saying goodbye to the kids who were transitioning to school. I have to say it was full on!

I have enjoyed my time in early childhood hanging out with the 3 to 5 year olds. The educators I worked with planned a tie dye afternoon so that the children could wear them for their performance, the one on the left is the one we all tied together with rubber bands for the kids and used the tie dye kit and the one on the right is using a food dye which worked just as well. It was very well executed where we used lids of big plastic boxes and the kids used the bottles of dye and just spread it on their t-shirts. You would think 3 year olds this is gonna be crazy but we managed to do it in a good amount of time and not much dye was on the kids, as for me I had blue hands for days!

The other fun project I managed to make with the kids was vegan gingerbread – this was a tricky one, as the dough was a bit dry as we could have messed up the ratio of flour to wet ingredients which was nut butter and golden syrup. This cooking project was with very enthusiastic 5 year old children who were eating the dough scraps that even fell on the floor. Their biscuits are cut out here and they were cooked but were quite dry when they came out of the oven, so it was certainly an interesting experience! Next time, I would consider smaller groups and doing the project multiple times.

The gingerbread house on the right is made by my daughter who loves to bake, she did this one over a weekend with making the gingerbread one day and the next day we researched the royal icing which would be the mortar to hold the house together. It was an very delicious recipe which is even better as we could snack on it after we took some pics.

I also finished my tree skirt for our makeshift tree this year! I managed to wrangle a bunch of leftover yarn to make this very colourful crochet tree skirt which is sitting underneath our stash of pressies this year. For a family who was pretty disorganised about Chrissy I feel we managed to get it together reusing the paper from our move gift wrap!

And our house is looking amazing, we can imagine checking out James working in his study, checking out who is coming to visit down our hallway, looking through windows while doing the dishes and looking up we have a roof! It is so exciting to see the progress since our initial deep dig in the ground and now the house is framed and ready for its details of the windows and doors, the black charred timber, weatherboard and brick for the exterior. The beautiful recycled timber Tasmanian Oak floors and the kitchen and bathroom with their terrazzo floors. We even went shopping for the kitchen yesterday and trying to find a stovetop and oven that will serve our cooking adventures, so good though so overwhelming!

Its time for a break now, so our builders will have time off and be back into it after New Years where we will see much more unfold. I am so happy to be back home and to be able to wish my friends a very merry Chrissy at long last πŸ˜€

Teaching Practicum and lots of crafting

So far over the last three weeks I have come home covered in glitter, glue, fabric dye, food dye and flour. I have certainly had a blast at this kindergarten teaching practicum and I have been lucky enough to be working with an amazing mentor teacher and co-educators. Life has been full on this week with completing an essay for a fourth year uni subject and having to go to work plus keep up with my other two subjects – I have to say I am feeling pretty tired. But tomorrow night I get to go out and have a drink or two with my work mates – yay!!

Oh and the cute bear on the glitter chair is one of the completed bears from the Year 5/6 cohort at my daughters school that I volunteer for, it came out so well.

So the kids have been so busy crafting and the windows are covered in so many Chrissy themed items, I am a bit of a fan of these stained cellophane windows which I had to cut out the other day with a scalpel, one of the joys of teaching! There has been so much glitter everywhere I go that I have had to dust it up and recycle it for another project, the kids go crazy with it!

Also the time we have in the arvo together to reset the class has been fun too. Recently we have been putting on music and getting everything prepped for the next class! I cannot believe I have been on my prac for 3 weeks already and it is nearly over. We were very lucky to have a dragonfly visit our classroom the other day when we were prepping the class, there are so many critters that come be as the creek surrounds the kinder. Across the road from my work, at the lake, is this amazing tree in bloom. It is a Silky Oak and I just love the flowers it produces as the colour is incredible. I had to look it up as I had no idea what it was and the flower reminded me of a grevillea so I did a internet search and finally found its name. Going for lunch by the lake, it is full of life with so many water birds and a perfect place to recharge when I am at the kinder for a full day.

Last Friday I met my friend in the city for a couple of drinks at an old favourite water hole in the city – Hells Kitchen. We used to head over there every week, when we worked in publishing and hang out and drink the night away before heading on the train – feeling quite happy! After our drinks we went across the way to have some delicious dumplings before checking out Federation Square and the Xmas tree and all the cool decorations. Its so good to be back in Australia for a hot Chrissy, though it is not feeling like summer at all with 18 degree celsius days.

And an update on our house, the carpenters have been super busy and have framed most of the house and now the scaffolding is up for the roof. Also there are a couple of windows in place with the curved walls downstairs, it is so close yet so far!! We are so keen to move in πŸ˜€

Busy little bee

Checking out what has been happening in my life over the last couple of weeks and it has been full! It has been over a week since I posted what has been happening here and since I had an assignment due last week and then I had to start drafting an essay with my hubby out of town there was a lot going on!

I have been enjoying the volunteering at my daughters school and seeing the progress of the kids felt animals! They came out so well, with each animal having a personality of their own πŸ˜€

Our house has made some incredible progress with the carpenters adding on Level 2 which is the kids rooms. We are so happy to see that there is so much happening on the build and we can start to get a feel for the place now.

This artwork had the best pun by Tinky the artist:-
It was a filthy job, but the rubbish removalists thought it was their best work yet.
Barek artwork on found signage
Sea spirit

Today, which is Sunday Funday, we enjoyed some family time out, before it goes all crazy for the next 20 days when I start work full time on my prac. Today was a lovely 24 degree day and we went out into Collingwood to Off the Kerb gallery to see the Barek exhibition that is showing for a short time. We so wanted to buy another piece of his work but as we have not unpacked what we already have in our art boxes for the gallery space in our house we decided we will go visit him in the studio when we see what space we have to jazz up. We all love his work and especially the pieces on the found signage.

I reckon there will be sporadic times of posting over the next four weeks, as I start my teaching prac for Uni where I have be documenting my experience constantly plus I have an essay to write for another subject and I have this great media unit I am doing at the moment too. So up until Chrissy it will be full on. Gotta get to bed early for my big week this week!

November and all the new things!

I cannot believe it is November already and that Thanksgiving is just around the corner! We will be celebrating in our own way this year and really missing our Thanksgiving get together in Oakland with our good friends. We will have to Facetime with them and share some love.

There were lots of new things happening over the last couple of weeks as my daughter was invited to go ice skating with her class. So, a school friends Dad drove us all to Docklands O’Brien ice rink for the afternoon. It was such a great opportunity to go ice skating! I have roller skated and roller bladed but I have never ice skated. Even when we were in California, we did not get around to it, even though the ice rink was in the next suburb. So my daughter got on the skates and no problem – she was even helping her friends get around. I got on with a very slow start and eventually I felt my balance on the skates and it was so much fun!! We are so looking forward to going ice skating again but at $50 for the two of us, it will only be on special occasions.

I have been volunteering at my daughters primary school to teach sewing to the kids. The art teacher at her school is doing textiles for the last term of school and I am helping out with the kids felt animals. This is what I used to teach the kids when I was in Mountain View California in the parent volunteer led Arts Focus classes. For the kids in years 5/6 we are doing the whole project from scratch where the kids trace their animal onto felt, cut them out, embellish the animal and this week they will be stuffing the animal learning the blanket stitch and whip stitch. It is so good to see how enthusiastic the kids are about the felt animal project. They want to keep the animal for themselves as they did have the option to make them for their prep buddy, instead now that they have practiced their own felt animal they will be given the opportunity to design another smaller one for their buddy.

The other good thing I have been becoming aware of now is the amount of fish that I am not eating. After watching the film Artifishal it has really changed my mind about consuming fish. Not only are fish stocks depleted, the fish farms pollute water, also what I found out on this documentary is that fish hatcheries in America breed fish to be distributed into local rivers where these fish breed with the wild fish. What happens to wild fish is that they become less resilient and disease spreads. This is an interesting site to check out for aquaculture in Australia.

So I have been slowly adding more plant based foods to our meals every day – which means soaking the chick peas, beans and eating lentils – there are so many varieties. There is still goat cheese in my bowls and I am not fully vegan but it is mostly vegetarian we are consuming at the moment. On the left is a couscous BBQ rub baked chick pea bowl with roasted beets and goat cheese. On the right is a deconstructed Japanese hand roll with sushi rice, vegetables, kimchi, and baked Tamari and SMALT BBQ rub tofu topped with Nori and a miso mayo sauce – yummo! Cooking dinner does require a bit of imagination and planning but I am making it work.

The huge excitement for our house is that the carpenters have been real busy and getting the framing in place and the house is starting to take shape even putting the second floor floor joists in as well. When we walked down the alleyway to check out house from the back we saw there was even a wall in place where the laundry and pantry will be. To see all this progress is fantastic and we are surely counting down the days until we move in.

The weather has been crazy here we are out on a balmy 25 degree evening flying the drone at the local park, it was beautiful. But today we have a high of 15 degrees and it is super cold. So the winter coat is still hanging at the front door and the beanie is there too for those cold southerly winds. Have a look at that gorgeous sky, its stunning!

Happy halloween

Well the time has come to get back into the study zone after my month of catching up on stuff. While I was free to catch up on stuff, I was investigating vegan makeup options. I found this great brand with a perfect price point in Sydney called MOMMA. So I ordered their samples to check the colours for a BB cream which includes a sunscreen (you need it in Australia) and found the perfect colour. Their lipsticks are just divine, long lasting and super smooth with shea butter. They also have a mineral matt powder to dust all over the place, as you can see in the pic! Anyway it is good to know that I have found a local makeup company to gather my makeup supplies and know that no animals were harmed in the process. Thanks to PETA for the extensive list.

Last week was Halloween and it was hot as at 32 degrees celsius. For me it was very strange to experience a hot Halloween. For the last 12 years it has been autumn in the northern hemisphere. So I ditched my costume and just wore my sundress and became a tourist for the afternoon to take the girls from my daughters school down to the shops for a bit of trick or treat action. Next year when we move into our house, I reckon I will be more festive for Halloween, as all my costumes are boxed up in the garage it was a bit of a mission to dig through it all.

Speaking of the house build, here it is and I am standing on the back deck in the picture on the left looking over to the dining room and lounge. The other pic is I am in the laundry looking towards the hallway and stairs. It is so exciting to see the progress this week but this week it is raining and fingers crossed we can see some more action this week!

Life balance

Being on break I have taken the opportunity to finally go to the hairdresser and cut all my hair off and get a new hairdo! I found this fabulous stylist Chloe at Cherry Bomb hair in Collingwood. I said that I wanted to cut it all off as I have been eyeing off the lovely short styles on women around Melbourne. In my minds eye I saw a pixie cut but as I do have thick and curly hair, Chloe created this lovely hair style and incredible colour. I like to share the before and after pics as it was time for a change. I am loving it as it is so easy to style in the morning and on my travels to the gym and on my bike.

I have been studying for a maths test which is taking up most of my time and it is interesting the amount of stuff I do not use, that kids still learn in Year 9 maths! Lucky for me, the real world including financial maths and ratios is something I do not have to revise. My revision book is getting quite full with all my reminder notes of various formulas I have not used in forever but I will get there. When I am studying, I see how kids these days can call upon Google for all their knowledge and the greatest saviour for me with maths is Khan academy, as I love the videos and explanations to help me with my mathematical understanding.

Over the weekend I enjoyed this wonderful networking event at Swinburne University in Hawthorn which was an hour away by tram and train from home. It started at 10am so I was gone most of the day and the rest of the fam hung out at home and did errands. It was the first time the online contingent of my University got together and we got to meet fellow students and chat to industry professionals. The highlight was the inspiring keynote presentation by Emma Murray who made us all feel the energy to focus on what matters most in our lives and most of all, how to focus on our studies. I left the day with renewed optimism to study and get through my course and see the finish line!

On Sunday, we enjoyed an afternoon of family time and we went into the city to check out a Mexican festival at Flagstaff gardens. It turned out to be long lines for the food trucks and we were not drinking so we were not keen for the crazy margaritas. So we decided to check out the Queen Vic market and it was so good! We basically went there to scout out some food and I found this Sri Lankan street food vendor who made a Kotthu roti, right there in front of me with this incredible array of ingredients including curry leaves and egg, yummo. They added cheese on top which was probably a bit much for me but the yoghurt mint sauce was the absolute best. It was quite a feast, so I shared it with Ash and my hubby. Making the roti was very noisy indeed but well worth it for the food theatre. These guys are part of the restaurant Drums and are a franchise of 5 locations around Melbourne. They are also at the Preston market (just around the corner from our place by bus) where they are open on the weekend serving string hoppers and hoppers, so I have a date in the future to visit them there, yummo!

And the excitement in our house is that the steel has been fabricated and is getting in place. I visited over the weekend and found that a lot of action had happened including a brick wall. We are so happy it is moving along and today I chatted to a guy welding away and he told me there was some steel to be put in the front of the house as well. Its so good to see the structure taking shape as I have memorised the whole build πŸ˜€

Spring break fun with the kids and the cats

As it was the last week of holidays and I needed a goal to work towards for my Uni assignments, we made a trip to Narre Warren to see the Katena Luminarium. It is an hour away on the freeway from the north side of the city – who knew! Once we hit the Eastlink it was 30km straight across and not very exciting at all in our little Car Next Door. Lucky for us, it was a beautiful sunny day but the Katena Luminarium was one hot little space on a warm day and it felt like we were being depleted of oxygen. Being inside is just like being inside a closed up bounce house. I have to say the inside was incredible to walk into as I have never seen anything like it in my life, the design of the curves and the colour was stunning and made gorgeous pics!

Friday was our first site meeting and the first time we had access to the property and to see the demo was intense, this is what is left of our front rooms! You can see the IKEA light just hanging in there. Our little Edwardian house is so old, as it had lath and plaster on the walls. The plaster needed to be removed as we are insulating the whole house which will be amazing!! It was so fun to walk around on the slab and imagine the kitchen and the living room. The builder was there outlining where the timber frame is going to be.

After our site meeting we took the kids out to the city for a bit of cat cafe action! We were ready but it was a rainy afternoon and the cats were napping so my cat fishing mission was a bit of a failure! Though we did get to travel down a lovely plant filled laneway to find the cat cafe and eat a rainbow toastie before we went in. After we were on a mission to find bubble tea and do a little bit of shopping for the kids and in the end we decided on a Japanese dinner feast with the kids where my hubby and I had our first date. All four of us rolled out, just like the cat bus in the film Totoro πŸ˜€

Saturday was my volunteer day. First at the gate of the farmers market, greeting the locals and meeting the dogs. After the market I went to Peppertree Place, another place where I have had to register to volunteer lately with a police check. So I paid to get that done and it was my first volunteer gig on a Saturday and it was amazing. The whole place was so busy, as there was a food swap where local gardeners bring in their bounty from their garden and swap with their neighbours plus there was some local entertainment with the Thornberries playing ukelele and singing! On this table there is sauerkraut, kombucha scobys, worm tea, flowers, herbs – lots of parsley, lettuces and silver beet. It was such an incredible energy to chat to the local community about what they grow and cook, as I love to cook it was a heavenly gig for me. Meeting the local peeps was so fun! I will be heading back in the future to help out at the cafe, which is something to look forward to.

Holidays, house and assignments done!

The last few weeks have been a bit of a blur with having to write 3 assignments! I am finally done with the assignments and at my last week of Uni now just wrapping up some readings and I will have a break for a month, yipee!! It is quite an achievement that I worked through 3 units and have come out at the end of the three weeks in one piece and not too frazzled.

Our house has finally moved on from a hole in the ground, to the black membrane which separates the concrete and now finally a massive concrete foundation, better get my skates on and start rollerskating!

As I was in full on study mode it was good to have Sunday brunch with some friends at South Wharf, I had no idea where it was in the city but it was a beautiful morning out. We were right next to the tall ship Polly Woodside – that I will have to take the kiddos out to one day!

It was James birthday week and I organised a little getaway on the Monday before his birthday – again, another study break but oh so worth it. It was the first day of the school holidays for the kiddos too! We all loved it as it was a totally meditative experience as you had to walk really slow so you did not get rained on. The immersive experience of the Rain Room was so cool as walked you stayed dry and even looking around you the rain was there and you were in your protected area with no rain. It was such an amazing experience with fantastic technology and art!

And here is the birthday dude with is cake made by me and decorated by Miss Hol with white chocolate hand drawn cat decorations with Happy Birthday stuck in the cake. Of course for a special dinner, I made a smoked salmon and goat cheese quiche and a pumpkin and cheddar quiche with a beautiful Pinot Noir wine from the Mornington Peninsula.

And to wrap up my week, Grammarly sent me my writing stats and man that is a lot of writing since I started Uni over 1 million! I reckon I looked that that cat by the time the last 12 weeks were over, my eyes bugging out of my head.

Springing in the sunshine!

The week began last week with some celebrations with our neighbour from Mountain View coming over for dinner (Tess lived right across the path from us and we did cat sitting for each other). Back in Mountain View, we had a couple of dinners with a savoury salmon pie, so I said to my friend, “come on over to our place in Melbourne, for some salmon pie and whatever treat you would like!” And the treat ended up being a special request with a pavlova decorated by Missy, our future baker. We did cheat a little by buying the base as the oven in this rental property is very unpredictable. We all enjoyed the Pav as a finale to our feast with a special Aussie wine with the name of Petaluma to remind us of California!

At the end of last week I went to secure my practicum placement at a local community kindergarten. It is perfect with an amazing outdoor space and an open plan indoor space and I will be working with the 4 year olds. Apparently in December just before Christmas all the kids go a bit cray cray as they are excited to start primary school and reckon they are big kids! I a thrilled as it is a 15 minute bike ride away from our house and I am pretty excited to be working in early childhood. Before I went to the kinder I had a magpie come and swoop me on my bike, now when I approach the kinder I have to walk my bike. Here is a little know fact, maggies remember their victims, and as I was leaving the maggie came flying at me. I was walking my bike across the road with my bag on my head, then we just looked at each other and I think she realised I would not harm her nest. Her red eyes were intense I have to say they are still one of my favourite birds – they have the best song.

After my ride to the kinder I went to take my bike in for a service and by the time I arrived it was time for lunch, so I had a treat of a lunch out at Small Block and came home to do some Uni work. Later that arvo Sam from Bikes Please called and said my bike was ready for pick up – I have to say it is a dream to ride now with its new brakes and shiny chain! Riding home see the pics above of what spring is doing in Melbourne πŸ˜€

My hubby went our house to see the concrete in our yard last week. See those big boulders, the excavator could not move them so has had to work around them and just pour the concrete in between adding another $9K to the bill – hopefully now that we have dealt with “the ground”, the future surprise costs will be minimal!!

Whilst my hubby went to our house, I was enjoying my volunteer shift at the farmers market gate and welcoming the community and patting the dogs in the sunshine. It certainly is a pretty sweet volunteer gig as I enjoy chatting to the locals. I found some amazing shiitake mushrooms and fermented garlic there and tasted some water kefir. Every time I go there there is always amazing finds! This is the rice bowl I made with the mushrooms and the garlic, with roasted SMALT BBQ Rub (my friends amazing company!!) chick peas, roasted tarragon pumpkin and topped with hemp seeds – it was absolutely divine.