Winter thoughts

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

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

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

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

Winter grooves

Another whirlwind of a week with wrapping up the week after submitting my essays with some volunteer work. I helped out with an excursion for my daughters school to the local historical society. This was fascinating as I always like to find out the history of where I live. The above pic is of the prison in Pentridge and the clocktower is still there on Champ Street, Coburg.

After the excursion as I was out an about and the afternoon was sunny and beautiful I volunteered at the local community nursery to do some weeding and chatting to my fellow volunteers. Every time I go to Peppertree Place I find something cool, like this bamboo sculpture of a spider.

Over the weekend I had planned to catch up with friends for a picnic and bike ride off the Merri Trail. It was exciting as the four of us got on our bikes and rode towards the city on the trail. I am still in awe of the beauty of the trail and how much nature there is as you ride along. The bike trail leads off to some dirt tracks and killer hills where I had to push my bike uphill. I had the picnic goods on the back of my bike and the kids then stop half way up the hill so it was hard to work the momentum to get up the hill. Still the ride is just stunning with Ceres Joes Market Garden where we get our veggies on the trail and just down the road from our house was a super cool find. I noticed they had volunteer spots but I have to watch my time now that Uni is out and there is a lot to catch up on for this month!

Monday was a day off – yay here’s to long weekends!! My friend and I went out to lunch with the kids and afterwards took them wall climbing. It was so exciting to see the kids get up so high and then slowly come back down in their harness. I reckon it would be fun to try one day and get over my fear of heights.

Tuesday was the day for me to go out and enjoy some mama time. So I made a booking at my hairdresser who I love, with their flamingos on the ceiling. I decided to do a brilliant red I have been coveting for a while now. As I walked along Smith Street the changes are intense with Vegan Wares – a super cool shoe shop, leaving the hood. Lots of little cafes and other stores have come up in the time we were away but still tucked behind the main drag on Oxford Street I found Proud Mary Coffee. I had been wanting to visit the Melbourne shop after I went to the Portland cafe with my Aussie friend! I loved the Melbourne cafe with the wonderful staff, kick arse lunch with local pine mushrooms and delicious coffee with a local almond milk. The coffee is the biz and I knew I shouldn’t have coffee after 12pm but I had to try it and it was amazing in a perfect flat white! The building above is an apartment complex I imagine as Oxford Street is lined with the beautiful red brick buildings.

Finally with some time to go through my wardrobe and boxes from California, I am ready to pass on some goodies to the world. These are some pieces that need new homes and can be found on Etsy and Ebay – all links are here => https://linktr.ee/poppypeach_goodness

Grab some goodness to jazz up your winter if you are in the Southern hemisphere.

Brunch is the best

It is so beautiful to be living so close to nature and having the walking trail just 5 minutes away. Living just 8 kilometres from the city and enjoying this much nature it makes me so happy. The weekend was a bit chaotic as I was busily getting the last edits on my two assignments, so to go for a bit of a walk on my day off the gym was a good thing to do for a bit of a brain break.

As I was wandering I was learning about the indigenous people of the area and the how important it is to respect the land. Wandering along I was discovering many native gardens and trees to inspire the garden for our house. We need to plant a tree in the outdoor entertaining area, it is such a difficult choice as there are so many amazing native trees around the place.

Sunday was a good day to have off as I had made plans to brunch with my friends at a place they recommended in Carlton. Humble Rays had something for everyone the guys had eggs benedict, my friend enjoyed a beautiful GF feast of salmon and I enjoyed seasonal mushies on toast – so good, as I hardly get to eat mushrooms at home! The kids enjoyed sweet treats and Ash ordered the Matcha Bingsu and it was a treat alright, we had no idea it would look so extravagant. The green is matcha shaved ice which had a jug of condensed milk to add some sweetness, he said it was yummy – though a bit too sweet for me. He is always daring when we go out to eat and likes to try new things.

My time with Uni is nearly over I just need to wrap up my readings for my last week and I am on holidays for a month until the next teaching period kicks in. I have many plans like going to Sydney for a couple of days for a trip by myself to see the Akira Isogawa exhibition at the Powerhouse museum – yes!! For the school holidays I will head on up to Queensland to visit my family with the kiddos, so looking forward to escaping Melbourne winter for 10 days. And then it will be back to reality and study for another 12 weeks. The time is fleeting by and I cannot believe half the year has flown by and we have been back in Australia for 6 months already – it is starting to feel like home again.

“Speak good words or remain silent”

Stealthy like this cat who lives near our other house is how I felt this week – into a routine of gym in the morning and back afterwards to study and write and edit my assignments for Uni. I can see the light at the end of the teaching period now with just one week to go!

Friday I found an injured possum on the road and called Wildlife Victoria to help but their volunteer did not arrive in time and the poor creature had died when I came back after the gym. The little fella got run over by a car outside my daughters school and I did not want the school kids to see it so I had to get a box to dispose of the poor fella. So he was put in the big bin at the school, so sad! Later that arvo I need to be with some peeps and volunteered with some lovely people at Peppertree Place Nursery just up the road from my house. It is a very special place which has been reopened recently and I serendipitously wandered by one day and asked if I could volunteer with them, Friday I was weeding and digging in the earth for nasturtiums and chatting about possum proofing their garden beds.

My community circle is opening up now and my daughters friends mum has a local business called Smalt (Smoked Salt) and it is just delicious. So on Friday I ordered some and it was exactly what I needed to inspire me in the kitchen for Friday nights dinner. I made an amazing tzatzaki with locally made felafel and a huge salad it was so delicious. And for dessert Smalt fudge which is divine, we have managed to eat most of it this week – we will be ordering some more soon! Such an splendid end to the day.

Oh and my bike is back with me, it is so good to be back on the trail with my bike and over the weekend I went on the bike track that goes for kilometres right next to our house. The ride on Sunday in between assignment writing was perfect for a brain break and it was so fun, there were hills and it was then I realised my tyres needed to be pumped and my chain needs to be greased after its journey across the sea.

I went on my first excursion with my daughters school on Wednesday to the Islamic Museum of Australia. We went by tram with 21 kids and 2 teachers and 4 parent volunteers in the icy cold winds of Melbourne winter we walked to the tram, hopped the tram, walked again, hopped another tram and walked again – the kids were done by then! Still they were excited to be there and so was I.

It was such a wonderful experience learning about Islamic religion and culture. The educator Sharene was so engaging with her anecdotes and stories. I enjoyed hearing about a story of the Prophet Muhammed and how he would not even kill an ant to start a fire. To me this resonated with my knowledge of Buddhism and not killing any living things. After the presentation and the museum I had greater insight of Islam and how important it is for me have an understanding of neighbours in my community.

This man on the ceiling was an Islamic inventor who tried to fly off a mountain in Morocco – he tried but failed but what was missing on his flying contraption was the tail.

There were so many informative displays explaining Islamic faith and the 5 pillars in one gallery space where a friend of mine was explaining in greater detail about each one to me about praying 5 times a day on their prayer rug and its connection to yoga, which I connected immediately with my yoga mat.

Another space focussed on art and this was my favourite area. The beautiful embroidered piece of cloth is from Mecca and is only a part of a massive detailed piece which you see later in the museum in the architecture area.

The art was charming with the peacock mosaic catching my eye – it was an art piece that you could touch to feel the detail in the tile and mosaic. The arabic calligraphy is another element that I was enjoyed and the detail in the geometric art and tessellation in design detail is what I love. The surfboards were created by an artist in Sydney, with another interesting story which I will have to research next time I visit.

Presented in this display is the history of calligraphy in Islam and is viewed as and expression of the highest art form, again this was interesting to me as I always viewed it purely as Chinese calligraphy. In this calligraphic style I am drawn to the swirls and interesting pattern detail.

The connection of Islam to Australia was fascinating as I had read about this in my Indigenous studies but it only touched on the connection with the trading of the sea slugs with the Aborginals of Australia. The gallery space shared greater insight with the connections to famous Australian Muslims and the cultural connections to Australia. It is interesting how this connection can spark such a fascinating display of culture that everyone needs to experience – this is what education is about to break down the walls of ignorance and open our eyes to others. And in our education session, the kids played a game to sort out this quote, by Prophet Muhammad “speak good words or remain silent”. Just beautiful. Peace.

Let us eat

With all the excitement of moving into our new pad I totally lost it last week with getting an assignment in, meeting our architects and builder, going to the chiropractor and the delivery of our stuff from California! Yep it was a big week but at least we managed to go out for lunch with our friend to the Boot Factory for a delicious chai. For lunch, I had Cauliflower Black Turtle Bean Felafels with Beet Hommus and Smoked Bocconcini, amazing – I am so in love with the food there and the bonus is that this cafe is only a 10 minute walk away from our new digs 😀

Saturday was my early Mothers Day lunch at Smith and Daughters, a place I have been wanting to visit each time I have visited Melbourne and finally my wish came true. An all vegan menu and so delicious I will so have to go back for the Feast Me set menu next time! This time I enjoyed food from the brunch menu with the Meatball Sub, a Holy Basil cocktail and delightful little balls of sugar donuts, bombolini as a shared dessert – I felt so good after that incredible meal complete with a sugar high!

So on Monday we met our architects and builder to tie up some last minute changes before the contract papers go through. I am so excited that things are moving along – the colours for the interior of our house are above, as well as the black charred timber for the exterior and the white stone for the kitchen with the terrazzo for the bathroom and the colours for the kids rooms in the foreground – whew it is a huge project that is going to take 12 months to completion. And the pic next to the new house is The Great wall from America in our garage from our house in California. We went through many boxes over the weekend and all I can say is that it is time to donate more stuff to the Brotherhood of St Laurence – why did we ship so much stuff back?!? My craft supplies have to seriously be culled, boo hoo or I gotta get making 😀

And last Saturday was election day – the first time I had voted in Australia in 12 years! I remember I did a absentee vote for Kevin 07 when I was in Vancouver, Canada but since then I lost the privilege of voting! Anyway we went out to lunch with friends at my favourite place in Melbourne CERES at the Merri Cafe and I enjoyed a lovely flat white and the most amazing bowl of goodness the Merri Poke Bowl, so so good! The kids enjoyed the playground and they took me up into the treehouse and down into the termite hole and bombarded me with bark as a surprise – not cool! The weather was 21 degrees and it was an absolutely divine day.

As for Sunday the results of the election were appalling but sure if the fear drives the masses to vote for conservative governments then we just gotta keep fighting. We have to block that stupid mine up North and make sure the forests and land is taken care of in Australia that is why I have volunteered for the Greens – seriously we need the people power to stop this madness, climate change is real people and we do not need to blast the earth for more coal! Australia has plenty of wind and sunshine, the investment in renewables would be the best thing this country could do – but no, again thinking of the short term gain with no foresight for the future. Well there are enough people who have had enough plus I have seen this madness in America while I was living there when the Dump was elected and how depressing that was! What I saw was the energy in people to rise up in response to the bullshit that was being spouted, we just have to kick against those pricks and the time is now!

Holidays over and out!

The three week break finally came to an end with the ANZAC day holiday on the Thursday, I went out for a bit of a walk to check out our rental property as the time has come for us to move out as the plans for our house build are moving along.

Friday we had a meeting with the builder (who I am excited to say we have negotiated within budget!) so I wandered over to the South Melbourne market to meet with our architects and went down to the builder at Williamstown. It was an excellent meeting full of wonderful information and a room full of knowledgeable folks who I am happy to be working with. Afterwards we enjoyed burgers, fries and beers (wine for me) at a brewery before I headed on back to the North. On my way home I found my one of my fave happy flowers at the market as I wanted to spruce up our place before my hubby came back on Monday.

Oh and the building on the left is an architectural marvel of Melbourne that my son found interesting on the way to the Melbourne Museum on Saturday.

The supercool thing we did on Saturday arvo was to meet our friends at the Gut Feelings exhibition at the Melbourne Museum. I have been wanting to check it out since it opened and it did not disappoint. As I am an advocate for good gut bacteria this whole exhibit spoke to me and confirmed my beliefs of taking care of your gut through eating a healthy whole food diet. It was interactive and so fascinating to understand the connections between out gut and our brain and the effect it has on everything in your body.


And to end our lovely afternoon we went out to dinner at La Tortilleria in Kensington where we enjoyed many tacos like this pumpkin topped delight. I realised these guys had a cafe through Instagram as I bought their delicious tacos in my CERES box and I am now a convert, they are the best! Looking forward to going back sometime soon with the whole family.

Now better get back to study as we are moving house again on Monday and that will be another time suck from my assignment writing and planning!

William Ricketts Sanctuary – the Dandenongs Day 3

To visit this sanctuary it will take your breath away with its dedication to the plight of Indigenous Australians by the sculptor William Ricketts. According to the video interview, William’s spirit animal was the Lyrebird where you see him dance as a Lyrebird sharing his inspiration and love for the earth and Indigenous Australia. I loved his sincere dedication as being the channel to share this art with the world. This sanctuary is a place of beauty, contemplation and peace where you are surrounded by a history of Indigenous Australia. Where the connection to the earth is fully present in what we need to see today, this sanctuary is something humanity has dealt with – the cruelty of colonialism. But breaking through the ugliness of this is the beauty in people and hope that we can exist on this earth together with nature.

After our William Ricketts experience we drove down to Birdsland Reserve to have a picnic lunch and go for a wander around the waters where we found a heron and a cormorant. Our Air Bnb host said to arrive there early in the morning or later in the afternoon to see lots of kangaroos. But as our day panned out we were there in the middle of the day and as we sat down at our table we were immediately surrounded by kookaburras! As Missy was about to eat a hot cross bun a kookaburra swooped down and landed on our table, we took one look at that beak and decided it would be safer to move somewhere else away from this wild kookas as I had heard they will steal snags from the BBQ.

After the Rone exhibition we went on the Sherbrooke Falls hike where we wandered on a small 45 minute walk in amongst the trees to see a little creek and find the small waterfall. I was thankful as our host told us not to expect Niagara falls which helped curb the excitement! The kids loved these very friendly Rosellas, due to humans feeding these guys over the years they have learnt to be trusting of humans and come very close to see if they can score some food.

Dandenong Ranges getaway Day 1

The inspiration for our little getaway over the school holidays was to go to see the Rone exhibition at the Burnham Beeches mansion in the Dandenong Ranges. My friend had shared some of his work on Instagram and as soon as the show was announced here I was on it! So I got a rental car and drove up carefully – the first time I have driven on the left hand side of the road in years to our little Air Bnb for the week.

Our first stop before check in was Grants picnic ground where you can get delicious pies for a late lunch and go and feed some cockatoos for $4 for plate of seed. The kids loved it and so did I and I was blown away to experience so many cockatoos in one place. After our fun with the birds we wandered over to the forest where you can get a glimpse into the feel of the National Park and it was absolutely divine to be amongst the giant Mountain Ash and huge ferns. I have not been hiking in Australia in 12 years and my experiences have been in amongst the redwood forests of Northern California, it was so good to be home amongst the trees again!

Oz Birthday Celebrations

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

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

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