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Thursday 31 July 2014

Berkeley Kite Festival 2014

Day two of our super busy festival filled weekend was spent at the Berkeley Kite Festival in Cesar Chavez Park, down on the waterfront.

It was definitely kite flying weather. Actually, by the end of the day it was almost getting too windy to fly a kite! I'm always amazed at how it can be so incredibly windy at Cesar Chavez Park when it's perfectly still in the rest of Berkeley. I guess that spot's just made for kite flying!

Monday 28 July 2014

Pedalfest 2014

It has been another busy weekend for our family.

Not one, but two of our favourite local festivals were held this weekend. The 4th annual Pedalfest was held in Oakland on Saturday and the Berkeley Kite Festival was held on both Saturday and Sunday.

We started our weekend by spending the day at Pedalfest. In past years we've gone on a nice long family bike ride to Jack London Square where Pedalfest is held. This year that proved a little tricky with Mathilde too young to ride on the cargo bike. Instead Kim and the big girls rode on the cargo bike while Mathilde and I took Bart and walked the rest of the way. It pretty much took the same amount of time and we arrived within minutes of each other. Perfect!

Friday 25 July 2014

Three Months Old


My name is Mathilde. 

I am three months old and I think my hands are pretty tasty.

Monday 21 July 2014

A Berkeley Staycation

With ten and a half weeks of Summer vacation to fill each year I'm always on the lookout for ideas to keep the kids occupied. With San Francisco so close (I can literally see the city out my lounge room windows) we tend to find ourselves crossing the Bay on a regular basis to explore the city.

The kids and I absolutely love San Francisco and enjoy spending time there but sometimes it's nice to stay a little closer to home. This got me thinking about all of the fun things that we can do right here in Berkeley. Our little city is full to the brim with a wide variety of fun activities and adventures for the kids.

So instead of hopping on BART and heading across (or rather, under) the bay to San Francisco, let's spend a little time here exploring our own backyard with a Berkeley staycation.

To make it feel more like a vacation, I've come up with a five day itinerary for the kids and I. Each day is filled with fun activities in one particular area of Berkeley. As we don't have a car I've tried to keep the activities relatively close to each other. Most things are within fairly easy walking distance (or bus distance) of Downtown Berkeley.

Day 1: Gourmet Ghetto, Live Oak Park & Indian Rock Park

Yes, you read that correctly. Berkeley has a neighborhood called the Gourmet Ghetto! I've always found this name a little odd, but as you can probably guess it's a neighborhood filled with fine cuisine. One of California's most famous restaurants, Alice Water's Chez Panisse, is located here along with many other well known establishments including Cheeseboard and the first ever Peet's CoffeeChez Panisse may be a little out of our family's dining league but Cheeseboard fits us perfectly. In fact, because it's right around the corner from Ava's school we go there almost every day!

Start the day with a late breakfast or brunch at one of the Gourmet Ghetto's many cafes. We quite like Saul's Delicatessen. Then head to Cheeseboard to stock up on sourdough goodies for lunch. Our favourites are bialys, asiago schticks, zampanos and brioches. And don't forget the cheese!

Saturday 19 July 2014

DIY: Hand Coloured Wired Head Scarves

I've been feeling a little behind the ball lately when it comes to crafting and getting creative. Trust me, I've been trying but the combination of the two big girls home ALL DAY and Mathilde keeping me up at nights is starting to get to me. Ok, it's not "starting" to get to me, it's been dragging me down for weeks.

When Fourth of July rolled around again for another year it really hit me just how behind I've been getting with my crafting. Usually I'd be working on something red, white and blue for the girls to celebrate the day with but there was none of that this year. No hand print flags, no fireworks crafts, no confetti rockets... Ok, I did set the bar a little high last year! Anyway, after a few hours away from the kids on the eve of the Fourth (time off to take a diabetes test - all clear), my brain was feeling a little less frazzled and I came up with a relatively quick and easy craft project to work on with the big girls to show a little American spirit. After all, I couldn't let my American daughter's first ever Fourth of July go past without making something red, white and blue.

So here it is, my quick and easy craft project: Hand coloured wired head scarves.

Monday 14 July 2014

Fresh Snacking with Sprogs Fresh Rice Scooters

Disclaimer: This post is brought to you by Sprogs Fresh. All opinions are my own.

"Mum, I'm hungry. I need a snack. What can I have to eat?"

Sound familiar? I swear this is the most common thing coming out of my kids' mouths this Summer. They seem to be constantly after snacks. 

Like most mums, I'm always on the look out for new ideas when it comes to tasty and healthy snacks for the family. I mean, there are only so many granola bars you can eat, right? We're on the go a lot over the Summer break so we need snacks that can go with us. Something that won't melt into a puddle of goo in the "snack bag" that lives in the bottom of the stroller. Something that will fill the kids up enough that they won't be asking for another snack again straight away - I'm looking at you teeny, tiny box of raisins. Something with flavors that I can enjoy too. I need snacks too. Tasty snacks. Something that doesn't make a mess should the kids really feel the need to eat on BART. I didn't say that. We don't eat on BART. I promise. Ok, my fingers might be crossed behind my back. 

In my search for tasty, transportable and healthy snacks I recently came across Rice Scooters by local Bay Area company Sprogs Fresh. Rice Scooters are fresh rice snacks in a range of delicious flavors. Think a modern take on o-nigiri rice balls. 

Friday 11 July 2014

Tidal Pools & Sand Castles

There's nothing quite like spending a Summer morning on a Californian beach. White sand, blue sky, scorching sun, beautiful people... 

Oh, wait a minute... that would Summer on a Southern Californian beach. Here in Northern California (or at least around the Bay Area) Summer at the beach means fog, jackets and beanies! Not that I'm complaining, mind you. I'm not a Summer fan at all. I much prefer going to the beach when it's cooler and atmospheric.

On our little trip to Big Sur and Monterey the girls were super keen to hit the beach. They didn't care what the weather was like, they just wanted to run on the sand, wade in the water, explore tidal pools and build sand castles. 

After breakfast we headed down to the beach; a short walk away from our room. For our stay at Asilomar I had booked a family package which came with a bag of beach toys for each of the girls, among other things. The girls were pretty excited about their new beach toys and couldn't wait to play with them.

Thursday 10 July 2014

Big Sur Coastline

While my parents were visiting from Australia recently we took a short trip south to Monterey and the Big Sur coastline.

It was so nice to get away for a few days. It's been so long since we've gone on a little trip. I know it probably looks like we're out and about all the time but seeing as we don't own a car we really don't venture out of the immediate Bay Area all that often.

Tuesday 8 July 2014

Ride the Ducks San Francisco

This post is brought to you by Ride the Ducks San Francisco. All opinions are my own.

While my parents were recently visiting from Australia we spent much of our time out and about exploring San Francisco. Most of our sightseeing was done on foot which is one of my favourite ways to explore a city. Walking is a great way to experience a city up close and personal, plus with all of those steep hills it was a great way to burn off all that sourdough, clam chowder and Ghirardelli chocolate we'd been eating! As much as I love walking there's only so much you can see in one day when you're on foot. This is when a bus tour comes in handy. Bus tours are a great way to see a lot of the city but they're generally not all that exciting, especially for the kids. What is exciting though, is a bus tour that turns into a boat tour. Say what? 

Ride the Ducks perfectly fits the bill, no pun intended. It's a bus tour. It's a boat tour. It's noisy. It's fun. It was just what we were looking for. Ava and Lola have been asking to go on a Ride the Ducks tour for the longest time. I knew that my parents were also keen so we decided to wait until they could join us. The girls were so excited that we were finally going to "ride the duck" when Mamma and Papa came to visit.

Happy 4th of July (just a little late...)

It's a little late but here's a look at our 4th of July for this year.

Now that we actually have an American in our family it felt so much more important that we celebrate 4th of July - not that Mathilde had any idea what was going on of course!

Like the last few years (which you can see here and here) we decked ourselves out in red, white and blue and headed down to Berkeley Marina for the 4th of July celebration. We ate festival food, the kids played on bouncy castles and obstacle courses and we soaked in the sun as we took in the sights and sounds of the celebration.

Ava and Lola love giving their little sister big cuddles so there was plenty of love being heaped on Mathilde as we sat in the sun. And maybe just a little fighting over who was going to hold her. Mathilde enjoys the attention from her big sisters but her absolute favourite thing at the moment is standing up with Mummy. She locks those little legs of hers and holds her arms up in a triumphant "hey, look at me!" pose, usually with a pretty big smile on her face. It's absolutely adorable how proud of herself Mathilde looks when she "stands".

Thursday 3 July 2014

Cable Cars, Ribbons and Hearts

No visit to San Francisco is complete without a ride on the famous cable cars. Last time my parents visited us from Australia we somehow missed taking a ride on a cable car so this time we made sure to fit it in.

Riding the cable cars is definitely a fun novelty, especially if you get to stand on the outside, however as it's at the top of most tourists' "must do" lists there can be a long wait. To avoid the long queues we always avoid the Powell/Mason and Powell/Hyde lines and hop on the California line. While the California line doesn't take passengers to popular tourist destinations like Fisherman's Wharf, Ghirardelli Square or Lombard Street it does have some of the most breathtaking views over the Bay and, in particular, the Bay Bridge. And the best bit? There's never a queue to hop on! 

A day in Berkeley

Another post about my parent's recent visit from Australia. Still a few more to come after this one too...

After spending a few days playing tourist in San Francisco we decided to keep it local and spend a day with my parents in the East Bay.

We started the day with breakfast at Saul's Delicatessen in Berkeley's Gourmet Ghetto. Saul's is one of my favourite places to go for a casual meal, especially breakfast or brunch. Oh, I do love their Malawach Yemeni Pancake. So, so good.

We then stocked up on goodies from the Cheeseboard and headed to Indian Rock. You may remember Indian Rock from my post a few weeks back. It's my new favourite place in Berkeley to go for a walk (or rather, climb!) with the kids. The views from the top are amazing and scrambling over the rocks is loads of fun.

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