Wanderings

Over and out for now with my crafting and sewing and to wrap it up I collected all the pieces from my work and made a another pillow which is stuffed with the smaller scraps as a memento of my time with my machines. I am now back to studying two subjects Developing Literacy and the Theories of Teaching and Learning both have a LOT of reading and now I am in planning mode so I can get my assignments done on time and balance the rest of my life living as solo parent with two tweenagers.

Last week was a long weekend so we went and did some house research as we are going to leave our lovely house sometime in the near future for the remodel. So as we were in a different part of the neighbourhood we checked out an amazing cafe The Boot Factory on Pentridge Boulevard. The crushed avocado, preserved lemon whipped ricotta with a poached egg was divine and their coffee was the best I have had so far. My favourite part of lunch was the vintage inspired decor complete with comfy couches and old wooden chairs and this gorgeous table lamp. I will have to visit again soon!

This lovely dress is from the same pattern a 1970s dress that was paired with the skivvy on the pattern picture so I thought excellent it can be layered or not for the changing weather. The dress was created for an up-cycled sari fabric which was once a maternity skirt. With the swing in the A-line, I felt it needed pockets so I added a couple of decorative pockets – I would not put my phone or anything valuable in there but it is fun for your hands!

This dress was another old pattern from the late 1990s I reckon that I used to wear a lot in many fabrics back in the day as it is pretty versatile. The skirt of the Japanese fabric was sewn together randomly and saved from the landfill as it was older and stained so I screen printed over the discolouration on the fabric pieced it together and voila a skirt with a top made from a $4 XL t-shirt.

The grey dress is a $2 Muse concert t-shirt cut up and mixed up with the XL tee and the skirt is from a dress I wore for my 30th birthday at Misty bar in Melbourne which is now permanently closed. It’s location was on the very cool Hosier Lane which is a huge tourist attraction with street art covering the walls of the laneway – I may have to go and check it out again and perhaps finally go to Movida to eat. This pattern is super comfortable and works well on hot days.

Looking around the neighbourhood I found the Penal Establishment of Pentridge with its bluestone walls and behind this huge entrance is another development with apartments and I am looking forward to how this all looks in the future with its inner city high density vibe going on. I love how heritage listed elements are combined with modern urban architecture.

Better get back to work as I have a couple of kids wanting the day off school so they can strike for Climate Change. It should be big with many kids taking time off school to show the government what they stand for as it is their future after all. Last rally I attended was the Womens March in San Jose, looking forward to my first rally back in Australia!

Sunshine and rain

The weather here has been brutal with the heat but now we have finally had a cool change and I am now wearing a cardigan – that is Melbourne weather in a nutshell, four seasons in one week, well it used to be one day! I thought last week was my last week to create but as it turns out I have another week of creative fun! So this week I have made a denim skirt from a $10 pair of massive mens jeans and a dress out of some stretch fabric (my friend gave me a whole roll of red stretch fabric) and I found some cotton fabric at the Salvos, also some hair bands for the gym from the stretch fabric scraps and a hat from kimono fabric. It is incredible how resourceful you can be when you have a minimal amount of fabric to work with.

Next move is in the works for this year and I started looking at rental properties last weekend as builders are checking out the house to give us a price for the extension of our 2 bedroom to extend to a 3 bedroom with open plan living and dining. I am excited about it all, but living in this current state of flux is difficult. We have just moved back here and our stuff from California is in the middle of the ocean on a container and we have to think about moving house again! Lucky this house is all clear of all the stuff from 12 years ago (thank you Brotherhood of St Laurence and Red Rabbit rubbish removals) and we have a few boxes to move but the arrival date of the furniture, clothes, books, craft and kitchen items are arriving end of March, yikes! We have one month grace period, where Allied International can hold our stuff at their warehouse – so I have to manifest a new place for us by the end of April. Again depending on the schedule of the builder is whether we will stay here or be moving in the next couple of months. I hope the extension starts sooner rather than later as we started working on this huge project in August 2017!

I am thankful that I have my machines to keep me company as the move back has been way harder than I imagined with the integration into a new community as a new migrant to Australia. I imagined that amazing little island paradise I was living back in Mountain View with our incredible parent community so it would be easy to come in and make friends. But that was a community I was a part of since Kindergarten – so that made sense I was fully immersed within it. Here it is a lot harder to make friends even though Aussies are super friendly! I have met two 5th grade parents which is something but everyone has their own lives so it is tricky to be the newbie and try and even hang out with local folks. Even at the gym, I say hi to a bunch of people but again it is not the same as the wonderful ladies I spent a lot of time with over there. The peeps at the gym are friendly and we chat about how hardcore the classes are and have a good laugh at our lack of fitness which is a lot of fun and great for my mental health. I have friends here who I catch up with on the weekends but generally it can get a bit lonely during the week but once I get back into study it will be best that I keep to myself and get my butt into gear. It is good to get out and socialise so we went to the city over the weekend to go to the art shop to gather supplies and track down some Mexican food at Guzman y Gomez. Nothing as good as Mexican food in Los Angeles and SF but the tacos were pretty good with the tasty chipotle salsa, yummo!

The kids have found some friends at school and I am happy as long as they come home with a smile on their faces, so I am feeling good about their schools and their time here. It has been just over 2 months back here and our routine is set with walking to school in the morning and I am off to the gym for some exercise and time out. It feels like a natural transition now and I am feeling at home but each day as I look around and listen to the birds and the trams I think, wow it is real – I am back in the inner city of Melbourne complete with the disgusting smell of cigarette smoke! BTW hardly anyone smoked cigarettes in the Bay Area so I got used to the lack of smoke in the air there except when there was bushfires and bad pollution days 😦

Creative freedom

Now I am back into the swing of things as a solo parent and last week was quite a doozy. The week started off well with a little feature on Instagram which was cool! After that, I enjoyed an excellent week of just creating with my overlocker and sewing machine and fabric to repurpose.

Midweek my son was sick with a tummy bug which we all got by the end of the week which was bad! Which made our weekend was a complete bust and time for recovery. My mission last week was just to create as much as I could as I have not had an opportunity to just make freely for a very long time. Back in California every time I had a spare moment it was spent organising the move back to Australia, so this was my chance!

So I went down to the local Dimmeys and found some cheap clothes that could be cut up and recreated into something else. At the moment travelling to find a fabric store sucks up time, so this was a random Plan B. This plan worked and I found some overstock jeans from a USA fast fashion label for $10, a big black t-shirt $4 and a plain black skirt for $3. The jeans have been screen printed and made into pillows for my lounge – I had to grab another denim skirt for $9 and repurpose that to complete a pair of pillows. I am finishing the third pillow using the top of the skirt with the button and zip which needs a bit of hand sewing with strong button thread.

The black t-shirt has been used for the top of a dress I am finishing with a fair amount of hand sewing before it is complete. I am still working through some ideas as I have really enjoyed just finding my patterns, cutting and sewing away without any real thought of consequence or deliberation for example when I use expensive fabrics. It is such creative freedom!

Today I went out for lunch with my friend and we had a delicious lunch together at East Elevation, in Lygon St, Brunswick East. We were first introduced to this place via coffee and my friend wanted to check out the food today. I enjoyed a plate full of mushrooms and goat cheese on rye (I am missing mushrooms as I would be the only person eating them in the house at the moment – so it is a treat) with an amazing Flat White. The inside space is amazing as from the outside is a big red door and surprise when you walk in, its a massive warehouse space with plants everywhere which I just love! We will have to check it out again sometime soon and see their quails and bees and chocolate factory!! 😀 This stunning flower is part of a display designed by a bespoke floral studio, ceciliafox it’s a Berzelia albiflora a Native to South Africa. I love the discovery of interesting finds that have many secrets behind their doors.

Feasting on creativity

It was our last week together with my hubby in town until we are reunited again in April with our cat, I so miss my Bella girl! She will spend 10 days in quarantine before she is released to us when they both come home. I am so looking forward to patting her again. The plan was to spend some quality family time together and we went out to dinner for the CERES Tamil Feasts in support of Tamil men from Sri Lanka currently seeking asylum in Australia. It was a delicious spread of Sri Lankan food with fish as the highlight of the meal, and for the vegetarians, there was a vegan option. The fish was just how my mum makes her mackerel fish curry with a side of parrippu and other delicious goodies. It was hot for me but as I am not used to eating a lot of hot food so anything with a bit of chilli is a challenge these days. It was a 3-course menu and was so filling. We also celebrated with some alcoholic beverages on the side. The bonus too is that there was a chai tea the men make up that we bought to have at home – delish!

It was insightful to hear the men’s stories of how they have fled Sri Lanka in search of a better life only to be in detention for 6 years in Australia moving from state to state until finally, they came to Melbourne. Countries around the world all have their shame and this is Australia’s shameful contribution with their treatment of people who travel over here on a boat, crossing oceans not even knowing how to swim and risking their lives only to be locked away for arriving undocumented in this country. It would be a good thing for Australia to come up with a solution but the politicians are too busy infighting to even consider anyone else? It is such a shambles!

Enough politics, for now, the Tamil feast was at one of my favourite places in Melbourne CERES – the Centre for Environmental Research in Environmental Strategies at their cafe The Merri Table. It is such a special place to visit with chickens for the kids to enjoy and their market on the weekend plus the cafe which serves incredible food – I think I need to arrange a meet up with friends there soon.

As we were so full we decided to walk around at night for a bit to digest and who did we find – a cat called Gato who followed us for many blocks until he decided, these people are not giving me any more pats I will find someone else!

Saturday was a great sunny day and I met up with a friend at another lovely cafe in Fitzroy Gardens called Kere Kere Green where I enjoyed this flat white with a vegan toasted sandwich – yummo! The playing cards they give for your places are kept until the end of your visit and you use them to vote for a community outreach initiative that the cafe organises. Such a super idea for giving back to the community and such a friendly and happy place on the edge of the most gorgeous garden where I spent a lot of my lunchtimes contemplating cube life when I worked for a corporate company. I have so many peaceful memories where I felt so connected to nature balancing the boredom of a day in an office – we did make our own fun though!

This week I have found time for my creative streak to shine on where I have taken some of my old clothes and a fave fabric from my stash to make a couple of new pieces. I was realising my lack of clothes for winter and have made some layering pieces the top is from an old skirt originally kimono fabric and the dress is some fabric I kept from my fabric stash from 12 years ago (the rest of the fabric I donated on Gumtree). It has been so good to get out my old Janome machines and get busy. I only have 2 more weeks of freedom before my time is devoted to studying again, so I gotta make the most of it. The bonus was that my overlocker was already threaded and ready to go – now I am going through clothes that I originally threw out and I am going to repurpose them into new items for my winter wardrobe as the shipped goods will not be arriving until the end of April, so my leather coat will arrive just in time before winter.

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 😦

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 – I 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 – I 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 – a 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 – I 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.