These are strange times…

It has been a while since I wrote anything here but the weeks have flown by as I managed to fall behind in my University studies and everything else has been unpredictable with coronavirus. I had work meetings, professional development for work, webinars for my high schooler, online doctors appointments and my last hair appointment for a long time! Lists of readings for uni to do, where it is so hard to focus with the whole household at home as the new normal. There is zero opportunity to disappear to a cafe for timeout with my computer and a coffee. Thank goodness for headphones I say! Exercise has been inside with body combat or some other Les Mills class every day if I can fit it in. Plus I have managed to make dates for drinks online with a couple of friends which gives me something to look forward to!

Times sure are strange but it is something we have to get used to here in Melbourne with our stage 4 lockdown restrictions of no work unless you are a permitted or essential worker, 1 hour of exercise outside per day, 1 person designated to go to the shops per day and 8pm to 5am curfew plus no moving outside of our 5km radius unless we need to go to a medical appointment. It feels intense to write this, but it has to be like this as it is important to curb the spread of this nasty virus. I am really missing so much now, but I feel once we are allowed to live “normally” again we will appreciate everything a lot more.

This is where I spend most of my time these days in my little study zone which is the converted lounge room with its massive windows covered in bubble wrap to keep the warmth inside. I am sitting here covered in blankets and wearing a beanie. I just keep saying not long now but every day is so uncomfortable living in a house that is uninsulated in a city that gets very cold in winter and really hot in summer. For these pics, I had to do a clear out of my desk to do a presentation for Health and Physical Education for Uni which is why the area looks void of anything as everything was put on the floor so I could film my 5 minute presentation. It looks very fancy and neat but I like to have my bits and pieces surrounding me so it is back to the way it was in the pic on the left now – cos sometimes I just feel like playing around with some craft – as most of the time I am studying. Last week I wrote a 2000 word report for the value of science in early childhood education, which I loved as I am a huge fan of science. Here is a little chemistry experiment I made for the little ones for work. I was on the tail end of my report and then stage 4 happened and we had to get into remote learning mode for the kiddos at kinder. Just breathe, I said and I got there in the end with a 48 hour extension!

Each day is another day closer to living in our new home, here are the pics before they get to sanding the floors tomorrow. The kitchen is looking amazing and I am so looking forward to cooking up some delicious dinners there. Not long now as it is wonderful to see things moving along – the construction fence is down and we will have a new fence in place soon. I am so happy to see this and it is definitely something to look forward to, just in time at the end of lockdown but who knows? The coronavirus numbers have been up and down for the last week and a half so we will see. We will have to have a zoom house warming party, until we can be together again!

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!

Holidays, house and assignments done!

The last few weeks have been a bit of a blur with having to write 3 assignments! I am finally done with the assignments and at my last week of Uni now just wrapping up some readings and I will have a break for a month, yipee!! It is quite an achievement that I worked through 3 units and have come out at the end of the three weeks in one piece and not too frazzled.

Our house has finally moved on from a hole in the ground, to the black membrane which separates the concrete and now finally a massive concrete foundation, better get my skates on and start rollerskating!

As I was in full on study mode it was good to have Sunday brunch with some friends at South Wharf, I had no idea where it was in the city but it was a beautiful morning out. We were right next to the tall ship Polly Woodside – that I will have to take the kiddos out to one day!

It was James birthday week and I organised a little getaway on the Monday before his birthday – again, another study break but oh so worth it. It was the first day of the school holidays for the kiddos too! We all loved it as it was a totally meditative experience as you had to walk really slow so you did not get rained on. The immersive experience of the Rain Room was so cool as walked you stayed dry and even looking around you the rain was there and you were in your protected area with no rain. It was such an amazing experience with fantastic technology and art!

And here is the birthday dude with is cake made by me and decorated by Miss Hol with white chocolate hand drawn cat decorations with Happy Birthday stuck in the cake. Of course for a special dinner, I made a smoked salmon and goat cheese quiche and a pumpkin and cheddar quiche with a beautiful Pinot Noir wine from the Mornington Peninsula.

And to wrap up my week, Grammarly sent me my writing stats and man that is a lot of writing since I started Uni over 1 million! I reckon I looked that that cat by the time the last 12 weeks were over, my eyes bugging out of my head.

Springing in the sunshine!

The week began last week with some celebrations with our neighbour from Mountain View coming over for dinner (Tess lived right across the path from us and we did cat sitting for each other). Back in Mountain View, we had a couple of dinners with a savoury salmon pie, so I said to my friend, “come on over to our place in Melbourne, for some salmon pie and whatever treat you would like!” And the treat ended up being a special request with a pavlova decorated by Missy, our future baker. We did cheat a little by buying the base as the oven in this rental property is very unpredictable. We all enjoyed the Pav as a finale to our feast with a special Aussie wine with the name of Petaluma to remind us of California!

At the end of last week I went to secure my practicum placement at a local community kindergarten. It is perfect with an amazing outdoor space and an open plan indoor space and I will be working with the 4 year olds. Apparently in December just before Christmas all the kids go a bit cray cray as they are excited to start primary school and reckon they are big kids! I a thrilled as it is a 15 minute bike ride away from our house and I am pretty excited to be working in early childhood. Before I went to the kinder I had a magpie come and swoop me on my bike, now when I approach the kinder I have to walk my bike. Here is a little know fact, maggies remember their victims, and as I was leaving the maggie came flying at me. I was walking my bike across the road with my bag on my head, then we just looked at each other and I think she realised I would not harm her nest. Her red eyes were intense I have to say they are still one of my favourite birds – they have the best song.

After my ride to the kinder I went to take my bike in for a service and by the time I arrived it was time for lunch, so I had a treat of a lunch out at Small Block and came home to do some Uni work. Later that arvo Sam from Bikes Please called and said my bike was ready for pick up – I have to say it is a dream to ride now with its new brakes and shiny chain! Riding home see the pics above of what spring is doing in Melbourne 😀

My hubby went our house to see the concrete in our yard last week. See those big boulders, the excavator could not move them so has had to work around them and just pour the concrete in between adding another $9K to the bill – hopefully now that we have dealt with “the ground”, the future surprise costs will be minimal!!

Whilst my hubby went to our house, I was enjoying my volunteer shift at the farmers market gate and welcoming the community and patting the dogs in the sunshine. It certainly is a pretty sweet volunteer gig as I enjoy chatting to the locals. I found some amazing shiitake mushrooms and fermented garlic there and tasted some water kefir. Every time I go there there is always amazing finds! This is the rice bowl I made with the mushrooms and the garlic, with roasted SMALT BBQ Rub (my friends amazing company!!) chick peas, roasted tarragon pumpkin and topped with hemp seeds – it was absolutely divine.

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.

Hello, shit show!

Another week has gone by an maybe I should be laughing and feeling so happy but instead, I am slowly being driven insane by the children and annoying things that do not work! Today I have dealt with trying to connect the internet in my lil old house and instead of being able to plug the cable in and getting it going I am dealing with a truly incompetent company who is the telecommunications giant known as Telstra. They are absolutely useless and I have wasted so much time and money trying to get my internet sorted in a timely manner. It is so frustrating and I understand that this is an old house and the phone line needs to be activated to use an ADSL modem but there was a problem with the exchange but when the Telstra tech (contractor paid $71 a call) came by to connect my modem – he waved at a couple of wires and off he went. I had to pay an independent technician to look and see if there is a problem with the line on the premises or outside and that was not cheapWTF! We had cable in the States as we did not have a direct link to ADSL and it was always good and it felt like the superhighway compared to the shit internet service here in Australia that is driven by politics and it is so, so sad! I just wish they would get themselves together and think of the future and how good it could be if they were not bickering over fibre optic and copper cabling, such a shit show.

I need a good cuppa tea after all that craziness – I am having to use the hotspot on my phone to connect to the outside world which is lucky. At least when I am at my house there is a bunch of stuff to sort through and find such as this peaceful prose. I love the meditation reference to using a pedal sewing machine, We simply let it be. Aaah if it was not for meditation I would be very, very mad.

Going through my stuff has been quite fun but there is so much crap to sort through and donate, give away or recycle. I found so many sewing patterns and whittled them down to just a few but hopefully they will fit me still! The dollar bill has a hummingbird on it which connects to my love of those little hummers. Plus it was so good to find pictures of artwork from a show I did with my sister many moons ago, I had screen printed bags and made them for the art exhibition. I remember selling a few but not all of them, the cat/fox screen print was pretty cute and my fave is the “earth astronaut” screen print on the multicoloured bag.

As I was going through bits and pieces before we moved back to our place to settle I found these great illustrations Ash had made at the NGV of his best friend Mack – our beloved cat who passed away a couple of years ago. This home in Melbourne is where he lived with us when we had carpet throughout the house and he and Scrappa hung out together with baby Ash.

Oh and what a find, today as I was looking for some more crockery I found an old box of silverware – this is my dream set of cutlery and I was very excited to find them. They belonged to my father in law (who passed away 10 years ago). They were in a big box full of a set of fancy crockery with illustrations of farm animals and right at the bottom was this box of silverware – now my dream of owning a lovely cutlery set has come true!

Just two weeks until my next assignment is due but with the palaver of all the crap with the internet and moving back and forth from my friends housesit to our place plus helping the kids hook up DVD players and VCRs life has been full. The kids will be back at school on the 31st so I am looking forward to a routine so I had better get my arse into gear and make shit happen so I can get that assignment worth 30% of two lesson plans uploaded to Uni.