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!