Archive | November, 2013

Flashback Friday: Pot plant

29 Nov

A comment my mom made on one of my blog posts the other day made me remember something funny that happened on my very first trip to Australia almost 13 years ago.

My exchange sister Lauren and I were going to her boyfriend (at the time) Michael’s house with Aaron.  We were probably wagging (skipping) school to play video games since we were naughty like that, but it also could have been after school.  Either way, Michael didn’t have his key.

“It’s ok, we keep a spare one under the pot plant,” Michael said.

“You have a POT PLANT???!!!!” I exclaimed, surprised.  “Isn’t there a cop living right next door?”

“Um…yeah, he doesn’t care about our pot plant.”  Michael told me, as the others looked at me strangely.

“That’s illegal where I come from.  You can’t have pot plants in the U.S.” I told them.

“What?! Why?  What’s wrong with pot plants? Pretty much everyone has them here.”

My eyes must have been as wide as saucers.  Why would everyone have pot plants?  I couldn’t wrap my head around it.

As I stood there, rather dumfounded, Michael lifted up a pot that contained a pretty flower.

“Oh, you mean POTTED plant.”

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Holidays

27 Nov

I can’t believe it’s almost Thanksgiving.  Not that we celebrate Thanksgiving over here, but I still do.  I don’t make a turkey because they are pretty expensive to get a whole bird and they always end up being pretty dry anyway.  I just get a chicken and roast it instead.  Chicken goes just fine with cranberry sauce and I’ve perfected the art of roasting a chicken.  It’s only taken me about 5 years.

Pumpkin pie will be made from scratch (as in no can of pumpkin, they don’t sell that here), with a wholemeal pie crust.  Yum….drooling already.  I do love me some pumpkin pie.

You’d think I now have plenty of time for relaxing, reading, and writing blogs now that I’m finished with university for the year, but I always manage to find plenty of work to do.  Thursday I cleaned out our room, mowed the lawn, mulched some pot plants, and cleaned the toilet, in addition to about 12 other things on my self made to do list for the day.  Yesterday I cleaned out the spare room wrapped all the Christmas presents I have so far, and finished some other secret Christmas business that I can’t tell you about because the recipients read my blog.

DSC00706

I have grand plans to finish my book this summer too, but as yet, I haven’t even looked at it.  I’ve only been working on it since I was pregnant with Daniel.  It is, after all, a pregnancy book.  It’s written, I’m just in the editing and illustration stages, which also take a lot of time.

One day I’ll get there.  One day it will be totally finished and I can put it on Amazon as an ebook.

Anyway, it’s 6am, which means the kids will be bounding out of their room any second, wanting cuddles, gummy vitamins, and breakfast.

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I found a puppy

21 Nov

I am free.  For the summer….  I finished my last exam for the year, and don’t have to think about university again until late February / early March.  Except to register for next years classes.

Anyway, after my last exam, YaYa and I went on a quest to see a puppy.  My silly GPS took us to the wrong street that we thought was the right street, and we spent 10 minutes buzzing the intercom of the wrong house.  I was told the house in question was Italian looking and the GPS  took us to the most Italian looking house that I’ve ever seen in Australia.  Turns out the correct house was Italian looking, just not compared to the wrong house.  I wonder if the residents of the wrong house watched in amusement as I pressed their intercom repeatedly whilst straining to listen for barks and puppy noises. I would have knocked on the door, but it was about 10 feet behind a locked fence next to the intercom.

Eventually, we decided that perhaps we were in the wrong place, and decided to drive around.  We got lost in windy one way suburban crazy roads and then finally arrived at the correct house where we found a lovely couple and lots of adorable Beaglier x mini foxy puppies.  I picked the rambunctious yet sweet girl puppy called Sandy for her sandy coloured patches.

Our future puppy. Right now she is only 3 weeks old.

Our future puppy. Right now she is only 3 weeks old.

Of course that name will probably change, but we’ll let Hannah decide.  Thankfully, it probably won’t be changed to Otis, since I remembered that Clarabelle from Mickey Mouse Clubhouse has a little female dog named Bella. Now Hannah likes Bella for a female dog.  Phew.

We were invited in for tea and coffee and we got to cuddle little Sandy for ages whilst we had a nice chat with the lovely owner of the dogs.

Sleeping on my chest and being adorable.

Sleeping on my chest and being adorable.

I’ll pick her up on Christmas Eve, bring her home after the kids are in bed, and then on Christmas morning, they will get the best Christmas present ever!  I can’t wait!  And we’re going to video their reactions, so stay tuned.

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The line

16 Nov

Princess dresses, fairy outfits, tiaras and handbags were being strewn about on the playroom floor as Hannah searched for a specific costume.

“I want to wear a purple skirt.” Daniel told me, eying the purple dress that landed at his feet.

He carried the item in question over to me and I helped him put it on.

Dressing up is fun for ALL little kids.

Dressing up is fun for ALL little kids.

“Here Daniel,” Hannah said as she put a purse over his shoulder.

He slipped his feet into a pair of Hannah’s plastic dress up heels.  “I’m walking, I’m walking!” He told us, excited that he could walk in them without falling over.

Hannah grabbed the hot pink wig and placed it on Daniel’s head.

“NO, I’M NOT HAVING PINK HAIR.” He told us disgustedly while flinging it off his head.

Dress: Fine
Purse: Welcomed
Heels: Super fun
Pink wig: Absolutely not.

The line has been drawn.

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one down, one to go

14 Nov

I’m almost finished.  Er…for the year anyway.  I still have 5 more to go.  Today’s final exam was pretty much my nemesis: math.  After what felt like millions of hours of studying, staring at the formulas I taped to the walls in the bathroom and kitchen and watching videos from Khan academy though, I think I did ok.  What a relief.  And I don’t have to do any more math classes ever again.

On Tuesday, I have my last exam for the year, and then a big summer break until the end of February/beginning of March.  Crazy as it is, I think I’ll get a higher grade in my math class then my food science class.

As soon as I finish my exam on Tuesday, I’m going straight to see a litter of beaglier (beagle x cavalier king charles spaniel) x mini foxy (which is apparently an Australian breed, so you probably have no idea what I’m talking about) puppies.

See how adorable beagliers are? (random photo from the internet)

See how adorable beagliers are? How can you look at this and not smile? (random photo from the internet)

If I like them (I’m sure I will), I’m going to buy one, and then pick it up on Christmas eve to surprise the kids on Christmas morning. They still have absolutely no idea.  I’ve been playing the “what would you name it” game with them to stealthily see what they’d like to name a puppy if we had one.

This is a puppy from the litter I'm going to see on Tuesday.  They are a few weeks older now though, and have their eyes open

This is a puppy from the litter I’m going to see on Tuesday. They are a few weeks older now though, and have their eyes open

“What would you name an elephant if you had one?”

“Rosie.” Hannah said.

“What would I name a goose?” Daniel asked me. “Dog.”

“That would be funny, a goose named Dog.” I told him.

“What would you name a dog if you had one?” I asked them, after naming heaps of other animals first, so they’d have no thoughts of actually getting a dog.

“Otis.” Hannah said, with Daniel echoing her a second later.

Did I mention I want to get a girl dog?  I don’t want  pee all over the kids’ swing set, sand pit, bikes, and all their other outside toys.  I’m not sure if neutered male dogs are supposed to stop marking their territory, but I’ve seen some that still do, and I don’t want to take that chance.

Looks like we’ll be stuck calling a female dog Otis.  I hope she doesn’t mind that much.

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The Christmas crowds

8 Nov

It’s not even Thanksgiving yet, but walking through the aisles of any supermarket, I am alerted to Christmas’ near presence by the abundance of displays filled with Santa Claus, advent calendars, stockings, and tree ornaments.  Alright, most people aren’t expats, so they don’t celebrate Thanksgiving over here anyway.  But I’m sure even over there in the U.S., aisles are filled with Christmas stuff.  And Thanksgiving stuff.  And probably bargain priced Halloween stuff that didn’t sell out in time.

Daniel and Hannah on Christmas morning last year.

Last year I left my Christmas shopping until the last minute and had to go out two days before Christmas and brave the crazy Christmas shopping drivers.  Seriously, stuff gets wild that close to Christmas.

This year, I have a new plan.  I’m going to shop online – starting at Quicksales.  I’ve already ordered some of Daniel’s beloved Thomas the Tank engine characters.  That way, I don’t have to take the kids shopping with me, ruining their surprise on Christmas morning, I don’t have to buy everything all at once (which is good for the budget, obviously), and I don’t deal with crazy Christmas drivers.

For their main present, the kids (and I…) are getting a puppy. I’ve researched the best breeds for kids, and I’m getting very excited.  I grew up surrounded by animals, so it seems natural to me.  We were thinking about getting a cat, but settled on a small dog because they are less likely to scratch and bite when you pull their tail or annoy them.  Kind of important when you have a two year old and a four year old.  Even puppies I can shop for online (crazy, right? But breeders have websites, and since we want a particular kind of dog, that’s the way to go), from the comfort of my own home, while the kids are sleeping and won’t have any idea what their present will be.

I can’t wait to see the look on their faces when they come out of their room on Christmas morning and see a puppy with a bow tied around her collar.  This is the first year that Daniel is old enough to understand what’s going on at Christmas time, so I’m even more excited about Christmas this year. Plus this is the first year we will be waking up to Christmas morning in our own house. Hannah is going to be so excited about the puppy, but I wonder which Daniel will be more excited about, the puppy, or more Thomas trains.  He does love Thomas trains….

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Exams

7 Nov

I’ve almost made it through my first year of university.  Classes are finished for the year and all that remains are the dreaded tests.  Needless to say, I’ve been busy trying to cram math formulas (formulae?) and all things food science into my brain for easy recovery at test time. There hasn’t really been extra time for blog posts.

After the 19th though, I’m free for the summer.  No more studying.  No more tests. No more papers or presentations.  I’m definitely excited for the break.  I like uni, but I also like having time for my blog, reading the book series I’ve been trying to finish for the last two years, gardening, and finally unpacking the suitcase from my trip to the U.S. in September.  It’s still sitting next to my bed, waiting.  I tried to unpack it one day, but the kids started wreaking havoc in my bedroom, so I aborted the mission.  All of my kid free time is spent doing uni work, spending time with Aaron, or ironing, so there it sits.

Consequently, I won’t be blogging much for the next couple weeks.

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5 tips to help you maintain your lawn in dry months

4 Nov

Yesterday Aaron, the kids and I went to Bunnings in search of something to help our lawn.  We spent ages each week out the back before spring manually pulling up all the bindii plants so the kids would be able to run around outside sans shoes, without getting bindiis embedded in their feet.  We could have used herbicides, but I don’t like them, so we went the manual route.

But it’s still hard to run around out the back without shoes because the lawn is so dry that it pokes our feet.

This is our front lawn, very brown except for the very edge, but at least we have a family of ducks that likes to visit

This is our front lawn, very brown except for the very edge, but at least we have a family of ducks that likes to visit.  I will definitely be using the tips in this post!

Needless to say, I was a little excited when I was asked to put up this guest post about maintaining dry lawns.  If only I’d read it yesterday before our trip to Bunnings:
During the summer, most of us wouldn’t even try to maintain our dry, colourless lawn. You may think what’s the point? Well, you’d be surprised to hear that you don’t have to slave over your lawn during the dry months to make it healthy. Here’s some easy tips to make your lawn postcard picture perfect.

Weeding

As pretty as dandelions are, they are still a pest that will quickly chew through your grass. Before you think why bother? Know this; a single weed will produce as many as 250,000 seeds. The best way to combat the enemy? Grow yourself a thick and vigorous lawn. That’s easier said than done, of course. So where to start? First thing you need to decipher is what kind of weed you are actually dealing with. There are generally two types; ones that are deep rooted perennials and the others are shallow rooted. The deep rooted weeds are harder to combat as you don’t know how far they have spread. A good rule of thumb is to dowse the weed in water or wait for a downpour. The wetter the soil is, the easier it will be to pull the root out intact. For younger weeds, drier months are the perfect time to take care of them as they would have started to die off.

Mowing

You may have thought your neighbour was crazy to be out every Sunday morning mowing the lawns. The funny thing is, he was actually onto something. If green grass is what you are after, the key to this is frequent cutting. It forces it to grow thick and keep out the weeds. Keep your mower blades sharpened if you intend on doing this as blunt blades will damage the grass and make it vulnerable to disease. Tip: Don’t mow the lawn when it is wet as it will not allow the roots to breathe. The lawn will eventually die off and you’ll be left with bald spots. Visit http://www.stihl.com.au/ for more ideas on how to effectively mow your lawn.

Watering

Before you think about investing in a high tech water sprinkler, think again. The most common way homeowners spoil their lawns is if they overwater. When you water every day, you encourage shallow roots and your monthly water bill skyrockets. Instead, water deeply and infrequently.

Fertilising

During the summer months, your lawn still needs a food source to maintain healthy levels of growth. It is also that time of the year when insects and lawn disease become present, so it is more important than ever to fertilise during the dry season. Apply a slow releasing and eco-friendly fertiliser to give the grass a constant nutrient source while safeguarding against the hot glare of the sun.

Traffic

No one wants to be that person that yells at everyone to get off the lawn. However wear and tear from animals, workers, kids, and vehicles can damage the structure, turning it brown and eventually wearing to dirt. While a mud puddle may be fun for some, it starts to become an inviting place to spend your time. Be aware of where the frequent areas of traffic are and give that space some extra attention. Tip: over-seeding at the beginning of autumn is an effective way to toughen up your lawn for the next year and will be easier to repair during summer.

Have any more tips on how to maintain your lawn? Tell us in the comments below.

*This post was brought to you by Stihl.

If you enjoyed reading this, please vote for my blog. All you have to do is click the link below. That’s it… Clicking the link brings you to the Top Mommy Blogs home page. You don’t have to do anything else. Any clicks from my site to theirs is a vote.  THANKS!
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