Crafting away on my holiday

I am pretty inconsistent with these posts of late but I am now on holidays from University so it is time to be free and not think about anything too much and watch some Netflix such as Next in Fashion and for a bit of a break from the usual routine! Here is my picnic rug size t-shirt quilt I made for a keepsake for the kiddos and our time at our amazing elementary school in California. It was the first time I have made a quilt by myself, so do not look too closely at the binding as that was pretty tricky to get those mitre corners just right. Finally, I have my sewing machine from the USA working with a transformer and it has been pretty amazing, all I have wanted to do was to hang out with it and catch up on my sewing projects! I tried free motion quilting for the first time, so some of my stitching could have been less experimental, but hey how else do we learn unless it through practice. I am very happy with this t-shirt quilt and I am looking forward to making another quilt real soon – after I make a pair of overalls for the farm from a cool vintage pattern I found in my collection.

Speaking of the farm I have been going weekly to Joes Garden at CERES which is just a 5 minute bike ride away from my house and I have a new appreciation for kale after picking multiple bunches of them. Today as a crew of volunteer farmers we had to pick 50 bunches – I am a bit tired after searching for the right leaves and using different muscles to what I would use at the gym. The weather here has been very humid and today was overcast so it was a perfect day to be out and about listening to the magpies and the pied currawong high in the trees while chatting and picking springys (spring onions), basil and kale.

As I am on break from Uni, it has been the perfect weather to take the kids out on a bike ride. We went out for a ride along the Merri Creek trail up towards the Main Yarra trail in the hope of getting to Yarra Bend Park to see the flying foxes. Unfortunately, the children were complaining way too much so we had to abandon that plan and stop at Dights Falls for our picnic lunch. I am so impressed with the incredible bike trails of Melbourne that are hidden within the inner city. We rode by the creek, through some beautiful bushland and rode up this hill to some incredible views of the city. I will have to fulfil my dream of riding to the bats as a solo rider. This ride was 20 kilometres return and the kids did not like to ride so long as they constantly asked me why I take them on long rides all the time, I had no idea a 15 min ride to the cafe was long?!?

We are at the lockup stage of our house build and it is getting pretty exciting to see this stage completed, the exterior looks amazing – the charred cladding is my fave! Here is the view from the upstairs onto the master bedroom and study below. I have also made a walkthrough to get an idea of what the inside is like before all the carpentry and interior is put in place. We are only 6 months away until we can move in and we are very happy about leaving our rental property and counting the days on the calendar.

Community connections at last!

So what has been happening for the last couple of weeks? I have been neglecting my weekly blog writing and in its place has been assignment writing. Plus, I have been wrapping up the school holidays with balancing study, so time was not on my side to do anything other than academic writing! Still my daughter and I managed to get out one afternoon to a cat cafe (which houses rescue cats) and we now have a new addition in our household, Apricot. She is such a sweetie and we love her.

For my assignment I had to design environments for early childhood and primary school. The early childhood environment I created is an outdoor playground with a focus on sustainability and Indigenous education. My indoor environment is a Reggio Emilia inspired play space to allow for open ended play. I had to teach myself Adobe Illustrator, Photoshop and Indesign again – thank goodness for YouTube tutorials. Here they are, I really loved the creative side of this project and adding the theory to connect the information was fascinating. In the end, it was a beautifully laid out 21 page document including all the references. For me, this was a fourth year elective unit and by the end of it all I was pretty impressed that I came through thoroughly enjoying it but it was a lot of work!!

So much work to create this, but I learnt so much from it! There are some incredible resources out there, especially here in Australia.
A lot of my inspiration here came from my time when I worked at a Reggio inspired school in California.

Apart from writing and adopting a new cat I have also been wrapping up my media content creation unit. This was an elective I chose to take as I needed to take some electives as part of my education degree. I have to say it was a refreshing change to read up about audio, photography and video and you can see all my work in this portfolio that I created. My last project was a video project and I ended up shooting two videos and learned the importance of B roll footage (love new terminology) when creating a story. On my portfolio site I uploaded a story on an urban farmer in Melbourne at CERES and the other film, which is just over 1 minute long is about Second Stitch – more info below.

From their online page, “Second Stitch is a refugee and asylum seeker textile enterprise that operates out of New Futures Creative in Coburg. They offer clothing alterations, products & workshops”. Second Stitch also offers opportunities for the community to come by the studio to learn sewing skills at their Open seam, every Tuesday from 10am to 2pm. Plus at their shop you can purchase the items made by the artisans in the studio.

As I had some time in between editing video – on very exciting software, Adobe Premiere Pro 2020! I did my interview at Second Stitch with Rachel who works there as a trainer for the students teaching her students for their Certificate III Textiles and Clothing Production. Rachel is also a talented weaver, so in finding out more about this amazing space in my neighbourhood I am discovering some incredible artisans in the process. Now that I have some time off Uni, I will be hanging out with the people up in this incredible space to catch up on some sewing projects.

With all this work I have been doing for Uni, I have been making incredible community connections at the farm where I volunteer. And every month at the MakerSpace at the Coburg Library I will be doing a Crafternoon on a Saturday arvo, where I can gather up some community members to do some sewing or whatever they would like to learn. This Saturday there will a chance to make a double drawstring bag, where people can practice sewing in a straight line on the machines at the library.

It has been a pretty hectic two weeks and I am so looking forward to catching up to a bunch of stuff that I have not had time to do – like go to my acupuncturist, aaaah!

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.

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!! 

Makers Gonna Make

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Last week I was in a flurry of making for a show with the Mountain View Parents Association on Saturday. It is a new energy of folks so it should be fun and the bonus is that it is at the community centre. I have made a lot of pouches for your glasses plus little coin or credit card purses that fit neatly into your pocket or evening bag. As I was chatting with my son I found this great little tool box he made with the scouts and I bought it off him for my table display. I had some gold spray paint and here it is living a new life holding my handmade goods.

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Some information on the holiday show here that I will be doing this weekend – if you are coming mention this post and get 20% off your total order. Shop local this holiday and support local makers – all good for everyone!

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As I was a bit of a busy bee this week with the sewing and then teaching at the end of the week and then I had to cook as a long lost friend was coming over for dinner – the week was over. Then came the weekend and now I am focussing on my studies!

The pic above is an amazing Green Tea Soba Noodle Salad I made on Thursday.

Ingredients

Green Tea Soba Noodles

Zucchini

Carrot

Watermelon Radish / Radish

Red Cabbage

Chickpeas

Coconut oil

For the chickpeas

Miso

Olive oil

Warm Water

For finishing

Sesame Oil

Method

  1. Cook your green tea soba noodles in boiling water following the packet instructions – I buy a brand from Australia.
  2.  Cut up all your veggies – I like mine raw – add them to a big bowl. Reserving the watermelon radish for finishing the dish
  3. Have your chick peas cooked and ready (use canned chickpeas, otherwise soak them overnight and cook them in a pressure cooker) and in a bowl mix the miso, olive oil and warm water slowly to create a sauce consistency. Add to the chickpeas and coat them in the sauce.
  4. In an iron skillet add some coconut oil and cook the miso coated chickpeas.
  5. Keeping an eye on the roll them around on the skillet until they look cooked – careful they do not burn!
  6. Take the chickpeas off the heat while you are draining the noodles with cold water. Add the drained noodles to the big bowl of vegetables and mix together.
  7. Pour a dressing amount of sesame oil over the veggies and coat them until they are shiny.
  8. Top with the chickpeas and watermelon radish and enjoy!

Such a super easy recipe and great for a weeknight – the prep is what takes the longest. Of course you can sub whatever vegetables you have on hand for any season – all it takes is some imagination!

And to finish my post this week with some inspiration I heard on the radio this morning from a favourite place of mine in the world – Hobart, Tasmania. This little boy is sewing teddy bears for charity and he taught himself to sew, I was so happy to hear this story it gives me hope for all those little fingers I teach sewing that it will not be a lost art after all!

 

Tote for Jetting Away

Leaving the USA for two months I am trying to minimize carry on luggage as I have two kids to keep an eye on at the airport too, so everything I carry has to be accounted for. I made this tote from the book Handmade Style by by Anna Graham from the sewing blog noodle-head.com. A friend of mine introduced me to the blog and this book is full of practical patterns that are super easy to follow. I increased the size of the pocket on the exterior as I wanted to use the width of the kimono fabric and I had to adjust the height of the bag to fit my 15″ laptop and it’s little padded pocket to keep it safe. At least it will make it easy to slip in and out when going through security! The zipped pocket on the outside can be used to store smaller devices like the iPad to keep the kiddos entertained. And the interior has pockets for the power supply, snacks and a water bottle. There is a longer strap with two handles as well, which I like the option of having. I love the colors and the combination of the kimono fabric and the linen interior, so let’s see how it travels.