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 ūüė¶

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.

A week full of farewells

What a week it has been, there has been so much happening and it is only the first week of December. I have ridden the emotional rollercoaster of saying goodbye to the friends I have met here. Thinking about my time here when I knew no one at the beginning of our time here to now where I have had celebrations from Saturday with friends. To saying farewell to a week of many lasts РI did my last sewing workshop at the local library to the hardest being my last class of teaching sewing to the kiddos at our amazing school community. The picture above is artwork gifted to me from a friend in my dance class saying we are just a straight line away! 

Last week I did a tote bag workshop at the library with my friend G who will be taking over the class from me. I am so happy to have her taking over as she is so creative and will have some fabulous projects in the future. We also did the felt ornaments workshop last Monday and that was a fun one with all of these beautiful ornaments the library community made. 

It was so hard to keep it together for my final Arts Focus class yesterday as I have been involved with the program for the 9 years we have been at our school. It is such an incredible program run by parent volunteers who teach different classes of 27 Kinder to 5th-grade kids. I feel this program is what motivated me to start my teaching degree which I totally love. Our community project of the quilt is super cool and the kids are given the opportunity to buy it at the silent auction. The LED cuff in the centre was made by a Kinder with thanks to a new teacher and volunteer who helped make it happen. Yesterday with the last class I made a video of the pipe cleaner dolls with a cool projector and tablet straight to the massive LCD TV in the classroom so the kids could see what was happening РI just love the technology. It works so well as I am about to hand in two video resources for my assignment that I made for the Australian Curriculum for digital technology and design and technology for the subject Teaching Science and Technology. I am always amazed at what the kids make and how creative they are, with this experience I have a feeling that this is something that I will want to do once I graduate. 

I also said goodbye to my friends at Top Hair and Nail Рa sanctuary where I go to for some pampering and relaxation. Here is my cool hairdresser Toy and there I am out with my new do at a bar on Thursday night celebrating our first session of Arts Focus for the school year and my final session for Arts Focus, so sad but I am also happy for the kids who had sewing with me and how much fun we had together. 

The bittersweet emotion that is manifesting from the move home to Australia is intense but I feel that we are connected to each other by our little machines and we can always see what we are all up to. My good friend in Melbourne mentioned that I will keep in touch with my peeps even though we will be so far away and with some luck, we will have visitors coming to Melbourne to say hello! I have been crying so much and feel a deep love for the community I have built here and saying farewell is way better than saying goodbye. I have received so many beautiful comments from my friends here and it will be strange not to be living in the Valley but now it is time to write a new chapter of our life with our family. 

What does this yellow bench represent? Well, the remodel of our yellow and blue house in Melbourne. It is getting there as we spoke to our architect and the structural engineer is working on the plans and then tendering for a builder will happen in February and here’s to a smooth transition to build phase and the building can start in March/April. For now, the interior scheme is wonderful with a garden that reflects our being with fluffy native grasses and an entertainment area. So with all that planning underway I will wait patiently and be ready for the next phase of the building – yippee!

But first, the big move to Australia and a rental property for the next 12 months, then get the kids settled into the school (which I am sure they will love) and for me studying in the background and recreating a network. It is quite overwhelming but I am breaking the to do list down and this weekend I need to start packing for the summer and the next 4 months until our stuff arrives. Currently, the Melbourne weather is 36 degrees Celsius (96.8 degrees F), its gonna be hot РI cannot forget the swimsuit!! 

Tikkun Olam – repairing the world

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I was planning to write about the current dystopian nightmare we currently live in with the news last week of a shooting in Southern California, the election results (not so bad but that idiot still is in power), devasting fires in California, to a murder¬†in broad daylight by a crazy man who was inspired by Islam extremism of a¬† Melbourne icon. A man who truly saw his customers like family,¬†the co-owner of Melbournes legendary cafe Pellegrini’s¬†Sisto Malaspina¬†I was in tears at the end of the week when I read the news. There are people in this world who are unforgettable and shine a light to make the world a better place and he was one of those people. I remember chatting to him when I would go and get a coffee when I worked down the road at Kinko’s, he made me my first macchiato and chatted to me about coffee and life. He always was welcoming and genuine, his presence in Melbourne will definitely be missed – my heart feels sad for the loss of this man as does most of Melbourne.

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I had the hope of waking up over the weekend and all the evil would be all over but no, we have to keep calm and carry on. So I went to yoga and witnessed the bright red sunrise to begin the busy day and as we were driving home the sunset was a smoke-filled haze and life continued feeling the pain of the world living in this dystopian nightmare.

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I had planned Saturday evening for ages and I went out to say farewell to my British friends to our fave place for happy hour Xahn and afterwards went out for more wine and dessert to chat about life and The Great British Baking Show. This delicious cheesecake is from Sugar Butter Flour in Sunnyvale and was just divine and was the perfect way to end our evening. I have met some incredible people here who I will miss and they are mostly travellers so I am sure I will see them in Australia one day!

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Friday inspired by a random post on Insta I started listening to Bjork and Spotify played one of my favourite songs which resonated with my current life situation of moving into another chapter of my being. I loved this album when I was living in my flat across from the police station in inner-city Melbourne. A place where I found the love of my life where we began our time living together briefly in Melbourne, moving to a bigger place with our little one and then our move to California for the last 12 years experiencing a different way of being. Listening to this again my gut tells me I need to be back with our family and friends and it makes me so happy to think of being back HOME in Australia.

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Hope is the feeling I am getting and there is no reason to give up when there is an inspiration in peoples words. As I was going to pick up this book by Michelle Obama as a read for my November break in Los Angeles I saw a friend of mine Ruth from the library (where I teach a sewing program) and she has recently returned from the East Coast with her dog Jesse. We had a beautiful conversation and I discovered she was a Holocaust survivor and has such an incredible history describing the Dump (current US Prez) as one of the villains in history a person who will intentionally take a piece of thread and unravel all the good in the world. The initial conversation began with Ruth sharing with me the Jewish concept defined by acts of kindness to repair the world known as Tikkun Olam, it is something to be mindful of and as Ruth mentioned to do something good for the world every day. I love to do random acts of kindness for humanity living an existence that is supportive of all beings so it was pure serendipity seeing Ruth today and having this thought-provoking conversation about our perspective on life.

So Long, Farewell, Auf Wiedersehen, Goodbye

Finally the time has come to say goodbye to our home of Australia! Over our time here we have enjoyed catching up with our family and friends in Queensland, Victoria and South Australia. We have made some new discoveries at places and eaten some incredible food. The time we have spent with our family and friends has been so special for all of us. It has been 8 weeks of travelling and being away from our two furbabies so it will be good to be back to our cats. Hopefully they will be happy to see us too!

The suburb where we have our house in Australia is full of multi cultural magic with Italian, Middle Eastern, Greek, Asian, Caucasian and more living together happily. This is what I enjoy about Melbourne overall with this incredible melting pot of cultures and I just love the food. Whatever takes your fancy you will be able to find it here. I have eaten¬†so well here without having to worry about the ingredients and the vegetarian options are so creative. No plain ol’ vege burgers on these menus.

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As a final goodbye to my good friends here in Melbourne whom I have met through work, DJs and through classes we went out to happy hour at The Moat and enjoyed civilised cups of mulled wine. As we are all mamas to little kiddos it was an early night so we all enjoyed dinner at a Japanese restaurant where my hubby and I had our first date at Izakaya Chuji. I mentioned that we have to try the deep fried eggplant with miso so we enjoyed two servings between the 4 of us and a plate of nigiri. Such a wonderful night with my beautiful friends, hope to see you all again soon.

The second last catchup with friends in East St Kilda at Lava in Balaclava where they have some yummy juices and Missy enjoyed some pancakes. We wandered to our friends house afterwards to see their cats and their house renovations. Soon they left to visit their relatives and we had a mission out to St Kilda to check out Veg Out the community garden and of course, some chickens!

As we were tourists in our own city we checked out Luna Park! So many rides but the one we really wanted to check out as a family was the Scenic Railway the old style rollercoaster that has been there since 1912 and restored in 1999.

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I could not resist this pic and had to buy it for our wall to remind the kids of the terrifying or exciting time they had on the first time on a rollercoaster! Missy was so scared and she wanted to get off – I just screamed this is just like travelling the streets of San Francisco!!

After our thrilling roller coaster ride we took it easy down the beach and found this stunning black swan from the pier. The kids were hungry for afternoon tea and thank goodness the Acland Street Cake shop is still around. Missy enjoyed this gigantic meringue with hundred and thousands as a sweet treat.

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On our way to our final brunch and farewell to our family we wandered by lots of graffiti on the walls Ash and I both appreciate the street art so we were checking out some favorites for some pics. I wanted to take a pic with the Krish tag and made a T with my body instead of the K.

Our final brunch was with my sister in law and her family at this lovely vegetarian Italian restaurant just a walk away in Coburg called Little Deer Tracks. The food was so comforting and the breads homemade and so tasty with a sourdough starter that is 8 years old. My breakfast was the Dukkah Poached Eggs with feta, mushrooms, smashed avocado and marinated capsicum with chili oil, amazing! I could not get enough of the sourdough bread the kids did not want so I ate that too, it was a spelt sourdough and a tad lighter than whole wheat with such an earthy flavour.

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We had to finally get a picture of the cousins together so here they are in front of a mural by the cafe! Gotta catch ’em all!!

Goodbye Australia, until we meet again…

The Love Cats

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New discoveries abound when you are a tourist in your own home country. As we were investigating places to walk and play we found the Coburg Lake, an easy 30-minute walk from where we are staying. We wandered through the new developments of Pentridge Prison where new apartments are popping up within the old wallls of the jail Рthere are some good views to be had for the apartments up high. Walking past the prison walls and out we finally found the lake and a super cool playground with this really comfortable swing and very high slide, that you just had to climb!

To get to the top of the slide you are climbing and climbing until finally, you reach the hole where you hop in and go down really, really fast due to the great curve in the slide. So much fun to be had! Of course, when we lived here we had no interest in playgrounds, slides, and roundabouts. As we walked over the bridge up the stairs we found many sculptures including this selection of yarn balls – I think they were designed to be rope balls found on a wharf.

Midweek I had organised a playdate with my fellow vegetarian food-loving friend and her daughter. We had such an amazing lunch at Monk Bodhi ¬†Dharma. The hardest thing for me when we go to these establishments is what do I choose as I can eat absolutely anything on the menu!! I opted for the Umami Mushrooms which was a bowl full of Roasted King Oyster, Shitake, Oyster and Swiss Brown Mushrooms on a house-made polenta pumpkin bread – for a mushroom fan, it was heaven! The kids were, of course, were a bit perplexed by the menu so I said just eat the buckwheat apple pancakes with ice cream and apple chips – they did protest, but wolfed them down in seconds. The chai was the best chai I have drunk in a very long time, spices roasted in-house and made with soy milk it was to be savored to the last drop. I can eat so well when I live in this beautiful city of Melbourne, this time, the weather isn’t bothering me so much as I love this city, even its seasons!

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It was a rainy day and we had a mission to go down to St Kilda Readings to pick up another book of the kid’s new favorite author David Walliams, sometimes you cannot find these books in the USA. Of course, I can buy it on the internet but it is way better to support a local independent¬†bookstore! We braved the showers and got totally wet at the St Kilda City Gardens and the kids enjoyed the climbing and play structures.¬†To keep ourselves dry we found the greenhouse and off we went with to play ball.

Down an alleyway for our next adventure to the Cat Cafe we found lots of street art and graffiti. Ash was a bit confused about the fine line between art and graffiti – I had to explain to him that artists are sometimes commissioned for the works or the City of Melbourne enjoys the alley art and it is used in photography shoots, tourism and the like. In the ‘What Good Shall I do this Day?’ the plaque I showed it to my son and he gave me a big hug!

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These alleyway posters are something different and maybe considered messy but as a graphic designer, I appreciated how all this works together especially the facebook and Instagram logos.

The cat cafe was such a relaxing experience. We each paid $12 per hour to spend time with the cats, 16 cats in total. As it is coming to the end of our holiday I am really missing our 2 cats and cannot wait to see them. In the interim, this was such an enjoyable experience patting these cuties gently and playing with the younger kittens. These cats are all living together in this warehouse style space built with a see through ladder for them to climb and see the world from up on high. The kids were in kittie heaven playing with the kittens and cats. It is just the perfect space for the cats with lots of places to jump on, sleep on, plenty of cat trees and places to hide if they don’t want any attention. These cats were so sociable and lovable we did not want to leave. Unlike the cat cafes in the USA where the cats are up for adoption, these cats live down an¬†alleyway in a luxurious Melbourne warehouse apartment.

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While we were in the city we met Graham at the State Library Gallery. Project Graham showed us what we might look like if we were built to survive on our roads. He’s a reminder of just how vulnerable our bodies really are when speed and impact forces as low as 30km/h are at play. The Australian Artist Patricia Piccinini designed Graham and her work is always so lifelike using latex and human hair. In conjunction with the sculpture, it had an Augmented Reality experience using Google Tango tablets for the first time in Australia. The kids really enjoyed the interaction with Graham learning about why he had hoof-like feet. Watching the video from the tablet they found out that this was so he could jump out of the way of a car and protect himself.

 

Groove is in the Heart

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The weekend started with a lunch at CERES (the Centre for Education and Research in Environmental Strategies) in Brunswick East Рa stones throw away from where we are staying. We have enjoyed visiting CERES since living on this side of town years ago and loved the fact that there is a native nursery, market, cafe, bike repair station, chooks and so much more, all environmentally focussed. The kids enjoyed playing at the adventure playground and we joined in the fun as well! See how you can decorate your garden beds with used bike wheels.

This beautiful tree nest is created with sticks and bicycle wheels on top of a platform in the lower branches of the tree. We found a hole big enough to fit through and escaped the wind chill for a while before we had to slip back down. We met our friends who we met in the Valley many years ago who have now moved back home to Melbourne and reestablished their life here. It was so wonderful to catch up and hear how the transition went for them coming back and how everything gets back into a groove after a time.

On our way to CERES we came across this amazing vintage market called the Lost & Found Market and lucky for us we got to spend a fair amount of time here over the weekend to check out their racks of clothes and vintage wares. There was so much to check out – fortunately for me vintage sizes are generally small, otherwise I could be adding to my luggage! Lots and lots of fabric that I could have added to my luggage were up for grabs but I have bought so much fabric already so I just need the time to get sewing now! My uncle has a vintage market at his house which would be perfect in this space ūüôā

Saturday night I caught up with a long lost friend who we haven’t seen since we got married 10 years ago. So much happens in ten years and the kids are a testament to that – it was great that her 4 kids enjoyed time with our kids too. We found chillis in the garden and the kids were eating them just for kicks, so we had to deal with some chilli burnt kiddos!

Sunday came around all too soon and we met my long time work friend from the publishing days for brunch. We met again at CERES at their cafe called The Merri Table with their excellent selection of organic, free range and cruelty free goodness I was so happy! So rather than a coffee I opted for the Golden Milk and what a treat that was with local honey to sweeten the spot. The base is turmeric and ginger to give it that beautiful golden glow.

On our walk back to the tram we saw this huge fluffball cat sitting atop a fence. Just one look at her and it was our cat Bellas Melbourne fluffy cousin. She was so soft and very happy to get some pats in the winter sunshine.

Monday we finally made it to the National Gallery of Victoria – friends of ours enjoyed a day off and hung out with us. At the entrance of the NGV is a waterfall wall and the kids went straight to it – oh it’s really wet they said!

Once we were inside the gallery has many a photo opportunity – the mirror art walk through sculpture piece was just the best for pics! Look above you in the great hall to see the stained glass. And we found this stunning video installation by Lisa Reihana: In Pursuit of Venus – excerpt from the NGV website:

“A live-action video that is inspired by the colonial nineteenth century panoramic wallpaper, Les Sauvages de la Mer Pacifique (1804‚Äď05), produced by entrepreneur Joseph Dufour in Neoclassical France. Les Sauvages draws upon journal accounts of Pacific voyages of exploration but Dufour and his team harvested information from different historical sources and relocated the bodies into a fictional Tahitian landscape, removing these Pacific Islanders from their cultural, historical and political reality and dressing them in Neoclassical attire.¬†The Pacific performers unbind the shackles of colonialism by bringing forth visual poetics of Indigenous culture and knowledge and thereby recalibrate colonial history from their own standpoints.”

The kids had a blast at the Fake Food Park by Catalan food designer Martí Guixé has created a vibrant environment in which children are inspired to think creatively about common foods via drawing challenges on the computer and hands-on activities using food shapes in a kitchen.

Of course, no visit to the city of Melbourne is complete without an excellent cup of coffee from Dukes Coffee Roasters after our felafel lunch from ENA Greek Street Food at Southbank. The kids were wanting some dessert so we opted for Nitro Lab for some ice cream created with liquid nitrogen and taking it one step further with some crazy concotions pulling apart a Golden Gaytime and reassembling it with salted caramel and chocolate chips, taking a mango sorbet and adding some jelly lychee flavours and the milo surprise with m&ms, condensed milk and milo sprinkled atop whipped cream. These guys really take it to the next level with these combos!!

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Lucky my friend and I had a hidden agenda of a little bit of shoe shopping while we were in the city. The boys took the kids to the comic shop Matador while we escaped down Flinders Lane for a bit of a look see – my friend found a perfect pair of ankle boots and I found these lovely red boots by effegie Made in Portugal on sale, how could I resist ūüėČ ¬†I took them for a walk today to the local park and they were so comfortable! I love European design and it is so hard to find fun shoes back in Cali so it’s best to grab these bargains while I can, great justification for a second pair of new shoes! The first pair I purchased as I accidentally went into the Camper store when all their shoes were half price and an absolute steal, we all love an excellent shoe deal!

Somewhere beyond the sea…

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And into the SeaLife Aquarium, we went on Friday so the cousins could hang together and we could check out another tourist trap. The weather turned to rain and cold so we changed our zoo plans to an indoor activity and that was the aquarium. We enjoyed our time with the family wandering through the different areas and learning about sea creatures and a lot of them were Aussies so that was fascinating. I like to go to aquariums to learn about sea creatures and this little red fella is a fiddler crab and it derives its name from the fact that one of the male’s claws, called the fiddle, is larger than the other.

The octopus was showing off its tentacles as we wandered by and this was a Maori Octopus the largest octopod in Australasia and can exceed an arm-span of three metres and a mass of 10 kilograms. I still love octopus and my favorite is the Giant Pacific Octopus that I have seen at many aquariums on the Pacific North West. We found this groovy looking prawn and the kids enjoyed coloring in Finding Dory characters to watch them appear on the wall.

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We fell in love with this guy the Boyd Forest Dragon – this relative of the dinosaurs enjoys living on the tree trunks in the Daintree rainforest up in Far North Queensland. It is such a handsome little reptile and so photogenic too!

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All of these Australian sea creatures are close to my heart – the Giant Cuttlefish being an absolutely favorite animal. Cephalopod Love. The weedy seadragon and the leafy seadragon have been successfully bred in the aquarium as these beautiful creatures are near threatened so it is important to be made aware of them to preserve their natural habitats. And of course the green tree frog their numbers have been in decline for a very long time thanks to the Cane Toad – now that is a disaster of a story!

As we wandered into Antartica for the last exhibit we found the King Penguin and the Gentoo Penguin. There were so many penguins in the exhibit and I felt a bit sorry for them due to the small exhibit wth lots of animals. The Gentoo penguins conservation status are near threatened. They are an endless little ball of black and white energy swimming around in the tank and I absolutely loved watching them dive and swim.

Soon after we played tourist we wanted some food as the aquarium food was pretty crappy – would you like fried, fried or more fried food and the only vegetarian option was hot chips! Federation Square was close by and as there was a group of us, Chocolate Buddha is a great place to eat and the kids love Japanese – win win! We saw the Melbourne bikes and the boys were enjoying seeing themselves up on the big screen at the square. The architecture here is captivating and is art in itself it truly exemplifies Melbourne in this central location. The food at Chocolate Buddha has always been very good and is presented beautifully. I enjoyed the lunch tray with grilled salmon and it was such a treat!

Saturday the 23rd marked our 10th wedding anniversary – it was so perfect that we were in Melbourne to celebrate. I asked my sister in law if the kids could have a sleep over so we could go out and spend some time together. The kids couldn’t wait to go and we were looking forward to a night out so everyone was happy. I found a vegetarian restaurant in Rose Street, Fitzroy called Transformer. This was not just any vegetarian restaurant with veggie burgers and the like – this is a place where vegetables take centre stage and the dishes are all presented in a sophisticated way. It is not often we go out and enjoy a dinner where the food is so artfully presented, so a decade of marriage is the best opportunity! The flavours of the food were combined beautifully using sweet, sour, hot, umami to perfection. The menu is seasonal so it changes with the veggies available, so the flavours really shine. The cocktail flavors were super creative, for example in the Kawaii Five-O – Green Tea Ume, Mandarin and Lemongrass Sherbet, Matcha and Lemon – all right down my alley with the citrus and tea. The desserts were just delightful in their presentation and the flavor combinations of meringue and sweet fruit flavors like freeze dried mandarin were magical. Truly this was an absolute pleasure in food experiences for us.

After our dinner at Transformer, we took a walk down Brunswick Street to see what other restaurant highlights had popped up over the last 10 years. We saw Smith and Daughters¬†a vegan restaurant which looks like something we hope we can try before we leave in a couple of weeks. To escape the chill of the night we ended our evening at the cinema seeing the film ‘Sing Street’ and enjoyed the flashback to the 1980s. For a couple of film aficionados, this was the best way to spend our anniversary.

Sunday we enjoyed a brunch with friends who 10 years ago were at our wedding reception – it was so wonderful to spend a relaxing time with everyone and enjoy delicious food and wine. In Melbourne, this is the place to celebrate good food and forever family and friends.