Friday, December 7, 2012


Things have been trucking along in the garden department. I've pulled up all the radishes and planted  more (for some reason most of them grew weird and crooked/spindly), planted more carrots (only one is growing?!) and planted my brussels sprouts. On the first day of summer (Dec. 1st) one of my glads bloomed and currently there are three others about to bloom with a few other set to bloom next week. I'm waiting to see if the mess of green in the flower bed is actually flowers or just weeds that I should pull up, I'm starting to think it's mostly weeds! Hopefully they'll start to do something soon!

My tomato plants are starting to get flowers so I'm really looking forward to eventually getting tomatoes and my pumpkin plant has really taken off. Hopefully some of the seeds I planted a few weeks ago actually start growing! I seem to have had the most success with planting things in small pots and then transplanting rather than planting seeds straight into the ground!

Monday, December 3, 2012

Christmas Crafting

On Fridays Aurora and I go to rhyme time at the local library and most of the time two of the girls from MG come along. To make it worth the drive for them we try to go for a bit of a walk and we usually always have lunch (there is an awesome chicken shop in the shops by the library). This week we decided to do some Christmas crafts as well.
I whipped up some corn starch dough using this recipe. I made six batches of white, three batches of red and two batches of green (I coloured the dough with Wilton's Icing Gels - the red took a lot of dye, one small pot of Christmas Red, No-taste red and about a quarter of a pot of burgundy, the green was one pot of kelly green).

There are a few reasons I chose to do corn starch rather than the traditional salt dough and one of them was that these corn flour ornaments were VERY white, a lot of the salt dough ornaments I've seen are sort of yellow-y. Another was that I happened to have corn starch and baking soda on hand (I later went to the store for more to make my mega batches) and another was that I get baker's eczema from flour and even though it's not that bad, I try to avoid it when I can.

After our lunch we got to work kneading and rolling out the dough. We decided to do our white ornaments first then our green and then our red to avoid colour mixing. The dough kneaded up beautifully and was very smooth.

We made a little over two dozen white ornaments, and a little over one dozen each of the red and green before the girls had to go.

After the girls left I made a few of my own ornaments. Aurora was asleep while they were here so I didn't get to do her hand print ornaments earlier in the day. The girls also left me their cookie cutters to use so I decided to cut out some letters. No idea what I'll do with them (glue them onto a plaque?) but they might make cute Christmas presents.

We're going to get together to decorate our handprints (we're going to turn them into Santas) and then we'll take some of the others to MG to decorate on the 12th.

Friday, November 30, 2012

Finally, Flowers!

It's been almost three months and I've finally got a few flowers blooming or ready to bloom!

I have a few flowers on a few of my balsam camellia plants and one of my glads is ready to bloom.

The only problem I have right now is I have a total infestation of leafhoppers. There are certain plants they leave alone but they LOVE flowers (they've eaten three of my pumpkin flowers and are working on the balsam camellia now). Now that I've finally ID'd what they are (at first I thought they were slugs/snails and then aphids) I can hopefully figure out how to get rid of them. Unfortunately I haven't seen any beneficial bugs in the garden which is probably why there is such a big infestation.

I can't wait until I have more flowers blooming (and when I can see what of the mass of green in the flower bed is flower and what is weed!).

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Proof that I knit!

I've been trying to write this post for a week or so now and keep getting interrupted! I've picked up a few shifts at Glen's work doing Santa photos so we've had a busy few days.

This doll feels like a long time coming! I started knitting it in September to have ready for Aurora's birthday and just when I was nearly finished I got hand, foot, and mouth and couldn't knit (it was SO painful!). I always have a billion projects I want to make at the same time but decided that before I started something new I had to get this doll finished.

I poured over my Jean Greenhowe pattern books to find a doll I wanted to make. I've already made a few and wanted to make one I haven't made before (since Aurora will eventually get the others I've made). I decided to modify one of the patterns in the book since it was the right sized doll and I could just add/not make other bits. I used the Robin Hood pattern for the body and the Cinderella pattern for the hair and then just added my own skirt (I made the Robin Hood skirt but without the belt it just wasn't looking right).

Overall I think it turned out well even though there was some fiddling and re-knitting of some bits (the main hair piece was waaaaaaaay too small the first time I made it). Now to decide if I want to make a small doll for Aurora for Christmas!

Sunday, November 18, 2012


We've had a bit of a busy few days around here. Tuesday was spent at Werribee Zoo and then we had MG on Wednesday, normally Glen has Wednesdays off but this week he had to work so I had to drive him in and then decided to go straight to MG instead of going home since traffic in the mornings can be iffy. I decided since I was going to be early that I'd take Aurora in to the walk-in clinic just to make sure that her lingering cough wasn't anything serious. She got the all-clear from the doctor thankfully and we were in and out quick quickly.

Thursday was another day at Werribee Zoo (our membership has now paid for itself!) with Glen's sister and her youngest (he's 4). Before we went to the zoo we got word from Glen's sister that she was running late so we decided to take Aurora to get her 1 year shots. I had been debating whether or not to take her for that session or wait until tomorrow or Tuesday to take her to a session in our old suburb. Taking her to our old suburb would involve driving Glen to work again so we figured we may as well just go to the closest one. It was also convenient to have Glen be there for these ones too (mostly because she's so mobile now, it's handy to have another pair of eyes! I think we can now say that Aurora is walking, she walks 95% of the time at home now and is walking in public now).

The zoo was great again and 4yo nephew seemed to really enjoy it. I was remarking to Glen at how neat it is that we can go so much and see little changes and see funny animal things that only happen occasionally. A good example of this was while we were on the safari tour, the tour guide was talking about how giraffes are herbivores and we looked over and said "oh, well, they ARE herbivores but sometimes they find a dead bird and chew on it!" we all looked over and there was a giraffe munching away on a dead bird (all you could see where massive white feathers sticking out of it's mouth). The guide said that she's only seen that happen one other time. I didn't think I needed a third post dedicated to Werribee Zoo so soon after the other two so I didn't really take many bloggable pics.

The other exciting thing going on here is that we've harvested three radishes from our garden today!

I ate the smallest one and I'm going to take the other two to the IL's tonight. The small one was SO spicy! I know giving someone two radishes is sort of silly but there's only two of them and they eat a lot of salad so I'm sure they'll use it.

One of glads has a flower spear so we should be getting flowers on at least ONE of my plants soon!

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Toddler Tuesday at Werribee Zoo

We organised a trip to Werribee Zoo today with six girls from mothers group for "Toddler Tuesdays". They do a bunch of kid geared activities like a "junior safari". We had never been for this specific event so I wasn't sure what to expect. Well, it was A LOT of fun!

We all met around 10am with hopes to get on the 10:15 safari but we missed out so we all went on the 11:15 one (thankfully we waited to go in otherwise we all wouldn't have been able to get on the same tour). Before our tour we went into the Aussie animal section and checked out the emus (the kangaroos were hiding again), after that we went and got a snack and some drinks and sat and ate to kill some time before our tour. They have a meerkat enclosure right at the cafe which was great for the kids.
The tour bus we went on was decorated with vines and stuffed animals and each seat had two animal hand puppets to play with. We sang songs and played with puppets during the ride. Aurora wasn't too into the animals out the window this time as there was so much going on in the bus but that was fine, you could tell she was having a lot of fun! I think some animal hand puppets are going on her Christmas list!

This photo doesn't do it justice, it was seriously cool in there!
After the safari we put down a couple picnic blankets and all sat to eat. By that time a lot of the babies were getting cranky so after we ate and let them crawl around a bit we buckled them into the prams and off we went. Aurora was asleep within 5 minutes and missed the rest of the zoo!

These signs crack me up! I didn't notice this one last time!
Thankfully the rest of the zoo isn't that big so we went and saw the last few animals and then left, we were home at 1:30. They have a stage with music and stuff set up and we might've stayed to take part in that if the babies were in a better mood.

I think if we ever find ourselves without anything to do on a Tuesday we'll head over to Werribee Zoo and jump on a safari tour!

Saturday, November 10, 2012

My first trip to South Australia

We made a semi-spur of the moment decision to make the most of Glen's rare 3 day weekend and go away. We didn't really have a concrete idea on where to go as long as it was somewhere we hadn't been to before, not an easy task when you haven't been many places! We were looking at places 2-3 hours away but I randomly suggested that if we were going to drive 3 hours away, why not just drive for 5½? And if we were going to drive to northern Victoria (near the NSW border) why not just drive to South Australia? With that, we decided to drive to Mt. Gambier.

They don't do big "Welcome to..." signs like they do in Canada

Click Read More to see the rest of this post (picture heavy)

Thursday, November 8, 2012


We got back from our trip (which I'll write about soon) late this afternoon so I thought I'd do a quick post with photos of the new bonnets in action.

Quick picnic in Warrnambool

At Canunda National Park, SA
Quick snack in the car after a walk at Canunda National Park

As you can see, they worked well!

Tuesday, November 6, 2012


Summer is coming down here so I've been itching to get into the sewing room to make a few more hats for Aurora. I made two bonnets for our trip to Canada and ended up giving one to a family member who has a daughter about 4 months younger than Aurora.

The pattern I'm using is great and the bonnet is simple to put together. It takes me about an hour and a half or so to do one (with picking out and ironing the fabric, cutting everything out and putzing around and checking on a sleeping baby). So if I'm lucky I can get one totally finished while Aurora naps.

I'm in the process of looking for a good pattern for a Christmas dress for Aurora. For some reason there's a distinct lack of red/white/green clothes around here. I had a heck of a time finding Aurora Christmas pjs last year (I managed to find a pair while we were in Canada a few months ago, I was so excited!). I don't necessarily want something froofy and fancy, just a cute dress I can sew fairly easily with some Christmas fabric. I need to figure it out in a few weeks so we can do some Christmas photos (crazy that we're already thinking of Christmas isn't it?!).

I'll hopefully get some action shots of Aurora in the new bonnets in the next few days, she's been kind of uncooperative the last few times she's been wearing them. Until then, here's a picture of her wearing one from our trip to Canada.

Sunday, November 4, 2012

First Harvest

We've had our first mini-harvest from the garden in the form of two snowpeas and then another three today!

So far the snowpeas seem to be the only thing impervious to the pests we have in the garden (I think it's aphids and not slugs/snails like I originally thought) and don't seem to be suffering in the same way my poor pumpkin is. My pumpkin produced a beautiful flower only to have it totally obliterated by the pests. I'll be really sad if things keep getting eaten before they have a chance to grow.
I've planted a few more pumpkin, watermelon and cucumber seedlings to hopefully ensure I get at least one!

The flowers are doing well and hopefully I'll start seeing some blossoms soon!

Friday, November 2, 2012

Lions and Tigers and Bears!

I don't even know where to start with talking about our trip to Melbourne Zoo. We had such a fantastic time!
There were so many areas that Aurora could get a good look at the animals, not a lot were pram level so we did have to carry her a fair bit but it was definitely worth it for the look on her face. Our first stop was the meerkat exhibit and Aurora got the biggest kick out of them! They were running around and wrestling and they were even interested in us and would come up to the glass to check us out.
Aurora also got a great view of the gorillas, two of them were fighting over a couple of burlap sacks and were running back and forth in front of the glass (she actually seemed a bit concerned when they'd roll on the ground together).

The Gorillas and their burlap sacks.

There were some other monkeys that we got a good view of too, one came and hung on the glass right in front of us (this particular monkey seemed really interested in babies, as soon as one baby left it came right up to us). I won't however talk about the disgusting thing was doing as it was hanging on the glass in front of us (it was funny but still pretty gross!).

Getting up close and personal with a monkey.

We spent a bit of time in the butterfly house too, Aurora could see the butterflies when they flew by and then wanted to grab them when they were sitting in front of her - whoops! Luckily we were sort of expecting that to be her reaction so we held her hands when we got close.

Butterfly House

We decided not to take part in any of the meet the keeper activities on this trip since we wanted to focus on seeing as much as we could, we weren't too familiar with where everything was and didn't want to run back and forth between things.

Going to Melbourne Zoo is definitely a whole day thing (we were there about four hours where as Werribee Zoo took us only an hour and a half) and we probably won't make too many spur of the moment decisions to go but I'm hoping we can get there at least once a month (maybe alternate between Healsville - which is also a whole day sort of activity). If we pack a lunch and don't have to pay for expensive zoo food, the trip only costs us parking ($2), the tolls on the freeway and petrol to get there. I also have to resist the urge to buy all the things in the gift shop (I love gift shops!).

Knowing that we had the membership and could go back whenever we wanted seemed to make the whole trip more relaxed, if we didn't get a good view of a certain animal or if they were asleep/hiding we didn't worry too much and moved on. We were also able to hang out at the exhibits the Aurora took particular interest in without thinking "Quick! We have to see everything!".

As far as having the most things Aurora is interested in, Melbourne Zoo wins hands down. We're planning a trip to Werribee Zoo for "Toddler Tuesdays" so we'll see what sorts of things they have.

(I'm going to save my rant of people not following rules/being rude/stupid but suffice to say it makes me extremely angry when people blatantly flaunt the rules - like no flash photography or using the flashlights on their phones to see animals in purposely darkened exhibits.)

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

A Spot of Gardening

Our new house has a small yard with two spots in the back for a bit of a garden. I have been wanting to do something back there since we moved in. Gardening in a different climate was really intimidating to me at first since I had no idea what grew during what season (things were so easy back home, you had from basically May to September to garden and that was it). When we got back home from our trip to Canada I decided that since spring was coming (spring starts September 1st) I was going to take the plunge and plant things.
Unfortunately I put things off too long so I missed buying/planting spring flowering bulbs (next year!) but picked up some summer flowering bulbs (glads) and a bunch of seeds. I decided that the long bed that runs across from our living room window was going to be for flowers and the weird triangular shaped bed by the back door was going to be for veggies.

I was really interested in trying to grow veggies/fruit that might've been difficult to grow back home or ones we've never tried to grow before. One of the main ones I wanted to grow was watermelon. I was having a bit of success with my seedlings and then I put them into the ground... Slowly, one by one, they all got eaten by slugs/snails or whatever else is out there munching on my plants. I went and picked up another packet of seeds to try again so hopefully these new ones survive!

So right now in the veggie bed I have: corn, snow peas, orange pumpkin, cucumber, watermelon, radish, carrots, basil, and tomatoes. I'll be planting brussels sprouts in a few weeks. I also have a little container of jalapenos and strawberries in the kitchen.

In the flower bed I have a huge mix of things. The two biggest things are the glads (they are doing SO well!) and balsam camellia. I also have snap dragons, sweet peas, marigolds, and a bunch of other random things.

Don't let all those tiny green plants fool you, most of that will be flowers!

We also have a plan to put down some grass seed in all those dead patches.

Monday, October 29, 2012

Night Out

A few weeks ago Glen and I took our first real trip out together without Aurora. I know a lot of people leave their kids with friends and family sooner (and we have while my mum was here/when we visited her for short trips to the grocery store) but for various reasons we haven't left Aurora for longer than an hour or so. The big occasion was because our favourite band Something for Kate was touring. We've seen Paul Dempsey (the lead singer) do solo shows a few times before but it was the first time I've seen them as a group. Glen turned me on to SFK while we were still friends talking online and promptly sent me all their albums and got me hooked. I think I've been waiting about 5 years to see them live.

There are only great things I can say about SFK & Paul. They put on an awesome show and sound incredible live. It was one of the first times that a concert has flown by and I wasn't standing around thinking about how sore my feet and knees were. I was actually sad we didn't have tickets for the other two shows on the following days. I was also glad of one of Glen's funny concert quirks. As soon as he buys tickets for a concert he starts non-stop playing that artist's albums. SFK's newest album came out a week or so before the concert and due to Glen's album pumping I knew the words to most of their new songs. It definitely made the concert more enjoyable knowing all the songs.

I'm so glad they're a local band (local to Melbourne even!) because that means I'll hopefully get a chance to see them more now that they have a new album out.

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Healsville Sanctuary

We decided we wanted to take Aurora to the zoo on her birthday. Glen got the day off work, it was meant to be a gorgeous day (sort of our first really hot day this spring), but what we didn't take in to account was that it was school holidays. Before kids, Glen and I basically avoided going places during school holidays because with the state's kids out of school for two weeks most places are packed. We got a bit of a slow start to the day because we skyped with my mum in the morning so by the time we got out to the zoo (lunch time) the parking lots and surrounding areas were PACKED. We drove around for a good 20 minutes looking for a spot. Glen -thankfully- suggested taking a drive out to Healsville Sanctuary instead. Aurora was asleep in the car so we figured we'd try our luck out there. It was busier than usual but there was plenty of parking spots and by the time we got out there people that had arrived first thing in the morning were starting to leave.

Glen and Aurora near the dingo enclosure.

We've been to Healsville about 5 times since 2007 (we went when we first visited and have gone about 4 times since moving) and it's somewhere I LOVE to visit (we took mum there last year). Healsville is set up like no other zoo I've been to, basically they have huge open enclosures that you can enter and get up close to the animals (if they're in the mood). These sort of open enclosures are very popular down here. If you're there at the right times you can even take part in a "meet the keeper" session and feed the animals and listen to a talk about them (we've managed to see most of them now).
I love going and feeding the kangaroos and giving them a pat, they're so soft! This time because we were a bit late we didn't do any meet the keeper sessions (we also figured Aurora wouldn't be too into some of them). So we took our time and wandered around (normally we rush between things to make keeper sessions). They've done a lot of work since we were there last year and have even built a huge new parrot enclosure.

Aurora loved the sculptures around the sanctuary.

One of the best things about Healsville is that it's all native Australian animals. It really gives you an appreciation for the unique wildlife down here. They also do great conservation work which is important for making sure certain species don't go extinct.

One of my all time favourite pictures, taken in 2007.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Going to the zoo, zoo, zoo, you can come too, too, too!

We've decided to make a bit of an investment as a family in the form of a zoo membership. Aurora is the perfect age to start introducing her to this sort of activity. She's very aware of her surroundings and loves animals. When we were home in June/July she loved watching my mum's cats and she loved it when we spent some time at a friend's ranch (she especially loved the horses). We've been wanting to go to the zoo for months and for one reason or another we haven't had a chance.
We decided for Aurora's birthday we were going to spend the money on a membership and then make the effort through the year to get to the zoo. We are really lucky that there are three zoos/animal sanctuaries close by. The Melbourne Zoo is about half an hour away, Healsville Sanctuary is about an hour away and Werribee Open Range Zoo is only about 15 minutes away (just a few minutes away from Glen's work). With a zoo membership you get free/unlimited access to all three zoos (plus a few interstate) and we worked out that we'd have to visit the zoo as a family only 4 times in the next year for the membership to be worth it. In the 20 days that we've had the membership we've already been twice and have at least 2 more visits planned.
With Werribee Zoo just around the corner it's a good place to go for lunch or a little bit of a walk if the weather's nice and we have some spare time. With the membership we don't have to worry about making a day of it, we can just pop over and see our favourite animals (or go on the included safari bus tour) and come home again.
As you can tell, I'm a huge fan of the membership (I'm in no way paid/sponsored by them, I can just see so many benefits for our family!)!

When we got to Werribee Zoo we had about 40 minutes to kill before the safari bus tour so we went and looked at the Australian animal section. In this section the animals are free range and you're in their enclosure. There were tonnes of emus wandering around but not much else. It was a fairly warm day so we think a lot of the kangaroos were being lazy in the shade. After we wandered around there we made our way and boarded the safari bus. Our tour guide was awesome, very knowledgeable, personable and she didn't make it sound like she was reading from a script. We got to see all sorts of animals and they were all fairly close to the bus which was great for Aurora.

On the safari bus, excited to get going!

After that we made our way around the rest of the zoo. A lot of the animals in the regular enclosures were a little too hard for Aurora to see (not that they were too far away so much as hiding under/in things).

Giraffes on the safari tour (all males).
The zoo has an African theme and all sorts of great signs around, this is one of my favourite:

Best sign ever. Had me laughing all day.
I'm hoping to be able to go back to Werribee Zoo with the girls from MG in the next few weeks (quite a few of them have memberships too) and I'm hoping we'll get to Melbourne Zoo this week on Glen's days off. We tried to go at the beginning of the month but it was school holidays and a total madhouse (we couldn't find a spot to park!) so we gave up and drove out to Healsville. I'll write a post about our trip out there (we went on Aurora's birthday) in the next few days.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Starting Again

I sort of felt like I painted myself into a corner with my last blog, both with the title (I've been in Australia for three years now and definitely feel settled) and with my serious lack of posting. It's not that I don't have time to update or don't get a chance to sit at the computer, I felt like I didn't have a whole lot to talk about and didn't want all my updates to be baby updates. I haven't had a whole lot of time to knit or do other crafts (though I seem to be able to find some time here and there to get some sewing done) and started to feel like if I didn't have crafty things to talk about that no one would be interested.
I really struggled to come up with a new name that would offer flexibility for the future, I didn't want anything that talked specifically of being crafty or of only having one kid (we plan on having more) or even specifically our location (we do plan to stay in Oz but y'never know!). I was having some serious thinkers block when it came to picking something (and of course a lot of good names were taken!).

Anyway, so what have we been up to? In January we moved from our tiny cold flat to a beautiful, double-story townhouse with a yard and small garden. It's so much closer to Glen's work which is awesome for having him home at a decent time every day and it's close enough that I can drive him to work and use the car for the day if I need to. So, that also means I've been doing a lot of driving. I can still only drive to the same half a dozen places but Aurora and I get out a few times a week and do stuff. We drive out to where we used to live to go to mothers group (known here on out at MG) once a week, we sometimes drive out to Glen's sister's for the afternoon and we're a short walk from the shops and library so we're there a few times a week too.
We took a trip back home in June and July to see (almost) everyone and have Aurora meet (most of) her Canadian family and as many friends as we could fit in to the trip. We did A LOT of driving (over 5,000km) and only saw part of two provinces. Aurora was a superstar on the plane and while it's not something I'd like to do often, it wasn't torture like a lot of people said it would be (I flew there by myself and Glen joined us and flew home with us).
We've been sick on and off since we got back from holidays (that's what we get for missing all the winter bugs by being overseas!) but still managed to have Aurora's birthday party a few weeks ago. Can you believe she's one already?!

Aurora painting at my mum's in July

And that's kind of where we're at right now.  We got up to some exciting things last week but I'm going to blog about that separately.

Sorry for my ridiculously long absence! I hope to start blogging again on a regular basis!

Lake Eildon National Park - Wombat!