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 😀

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 😀

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.

Local discoveries

Last week was so nice just to hang out and catch up on my Uni work and have a little bit of freedom to meet a friend for lunch and do some volunteering at my daughters primary school. I am back to Uni again this week and after being caught up, I now have two more assignments to complete in the next two weeks. Still it keeps me occupied and I enjoy it.

See those delicious rice paper rolls up there – they are from a local vegan Vietamese cafe in Coburg that I was really excited to check out. The food was so fresh and the tea was divine so I am looking forward to going back again soon!

Apart from chilling last week, I enjoyed some time at the gym and seeing the blooms of spring appearing – bring it on I say! I do miss the sunshine of California but it is winter, so it is to be expected. I have also been uploading DVDs from way back when and they are hilarious, if you want to check them out and see the kiddos and the cats back in the day they are on Vimeo.

And more exciting news on the house this week, with the bobcat excavating the back yard getting ready for the concrete foundation. We got a call the other day that these guys said they were digging out massive rocks and as you can see there are plenty. My hubby went out to have a chat with our architect and they decided that there’s enough stone underneath that the concrete can just go around them. So hopefully come Saturday we will see some concrete happening.

Here’s to more sunshine!

This weeks update of the renovations are looking good as the whole garden is cleared and the windows are out. The only part left is what we are keeping minus the front door, with the neighbourhood cat was enjoying itself in our digs. After all the rain this week we are quite impressed to see the work moving along!

Last week, I was studying away after a hectic couple of weeks of writing assignments and it was time to have a break. This weekend the weather has been stunning, with lots of sunshine! So we enjoyed some family time as we had to pick up a cat tree for a fave feline on the other side of the city. It is so good to have a break and just relax far away from my computer and drive a car to the other side of the city and head to the beach.

There has been a lot going on in life, and I have found it hard to focus on my studies. This week I booked an appointment with my acupuncturist. As my acupuncturist says, humans regularly need a tune up, so I will have to go more often. Now I am feeling so much more centred and relaxed. Each morning, I enjoy some time at the gym and doing weights, classes and cardio so after class I make this delicious matcha hemp protein drink with a spoonful of hemp seed oil to help with body recovery. This one was extra creamy with the addition of raw cashews.

Looking forward to a week off this week and catching up on some uni readings and planning my practicum unit for the end of the year. I have to organise myself, recharge and hit these three units to get them done and dusted.

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!

And they are off…

Well, the time finally came and the kids were off to school. I have to say it has been a bit hard for my son with the high school kids and their cliques and not being so open to making friends. Whereas the primary school community is small enough that my daughter has met some friends, which is great! As for myself, I have friends out of the local area which is wonderful but trying to break into an already established community is a bit difficult. I remember when I went over to the States and I did not know a soul and things do take time and in reality, I have only been here since the 20th January so it has not been that long at all! My daughter’s school is having a picnic next week so with some luck I can meet some other families.

The big change for me is that I do not have to rush home to study after the gym – so I am pretty happy that I have finished my last teaching period! It was really a struggle having to study and move to a new country at the same time. I received an academic achievement for my last subject Teaching and Learning in the 21st century which really helps as trying to keep going is tricky with everything that is happening in my life! So I keep it out to look at each day so I can stay motivated and keep going!!

I have been going to the gym and cardio classes and they are intense but with my excitement to be working out I injured myself and overdid my quads when I did a body pump class. My plan was to do weights every day until I decided that every second day will be better as I can do one of the machines on my rest day. It is fun to go to the gym and it is a friendly place too but it’s not like my lovely dance class full of friendly ladies. Time will tell and you are in the zone when exercising so I can just focus on myself and not really socialise – I will have to remember to bring my headphones and listen to some motivating music :D.

Last Friday I went to see our interior scheme for our house build and it was very exciting. The exterior of the house is burnt black and white brick and the colour will be inside the house. The bathroom will have the Terrazzo floor with blue, green and wood highlights. We are still on plan for the tender process mid-February and fingers crossed a builder can fit us into their busy schedules! Oh, and while I was visiting the architect in South Melbourne, I visited the market for the most delicious food and had a cauliflower and leek pie with salad and roast veggies – so good!

Walking around our neighbourhood and who do I find? My hubby, yay he is here for a couple of weeks but alas he is working. Lucky, we have one weekend to catch up with family and friends to enjoy ourselves before he heads on back to wrap up the rest of the stuff back in California. After school when we picked up the kids, I said, “hey, how about a pie?” so Missy and my hubby took up the offer and they were tasty.

It is nice to be in some sort of routine now where I walk to the kids’ school in the morning and go to the gym. The walk is only 20 minutes away to pick up the kids in the arvo and then they have some free time and then its homework time – Ash is doing some science homework here on his bed with pictures of friends and family on the wall for inspiration, including his Serama chicken Darkstalker. Later in the evening on cooler days when I can put the oven on I made this tasty silverbeet and heirloom cherry tomato pie. I am loving the food from Ceres Fair food as it is organic, fresh and local for most of their produce. They have an excellent selection of kombucha and non-meat products too which I love so that is my fruit and veggie shop sorted with the added bonus of the delivery to the door. Other bits and pieces I can get at Woollies and other places are a 10-minute walk away. I love this area as everything is so convenient. We don’t have a car as yet so with all this walking I am getting plenty of exercise and enjoying the sunshine and fresh air.

With time off from University, I now have time to go through all our stuff! I moved all the boxes from under the bed and now we are sleeping on the floor on a mattress just like student days – lucky its only short term! Anyway, I am taking the Swedish death cleaning approach and thinking that I have not cared about this stuff for the last 12 years so then why keep it anymore. I found cassettes and business cards that are going to the recycling next week – I do not even have a tape recorder so why keep them! There were a lot of business cards and told a story of my other life before kids as a designer and freelancing around Melbourne. It was interesting to look over them and see the names of people who I met at Uni and work, so it was helpful for me to think yeah that is where most of my friendships with peeps began.

The major reason why my post is late this week is that I have been going through a moving box full of photos. It has been exhausting going through all the memories some good and some not so good. Again I thought why do I keep these pictures as it will just be for my kids to clean up when I am gone and they will just chuck it all away, this way I can hopefully recycle it all including the negatives? This is just a handful of the photos I am sending away. Sitting there looking through the travel memories have been great thinking wow I really did that when I was only 23, I am a huge proponent for travelling when you are young as it helps you see the world to open your mind to so many life experiences. It really helped pave the way for my artistic career at the beginning with photography and writing. I also have a lot of 35mm slides and maybe I can make a light fitting out of them or repurpose them somehow – there are many ideas on Pinterest, so next time I have time to craft that is my next project. As for the photos they can go – the memories were great and now it is time for a new phase in my life.