Gardening Tips for the Clueless

Please note the title of this post. If you are an avid gardener, in fact even if you are a moderate gardener, these tips will not be useful for you. In fact, you probably wouldn’t regard this as tips. It’s probably more like common sense. Sadly, some of us clueless gardeners don’t have common sense. So, if you have a green thumb, this section has the potential to amuse or horrify you. Feel free to leave your own helpful and much more sensible hints. At the first feeling of horror, please stop reading, because I can assure you that it will only get worse…

Four years ago The Accountant and I were tossing up whether to buy or build a house. One of the reasons we decided to buy a house, was that it would come with established gardens which would be a bonus for us because we aren’t great gardeners. Subsequently we bought a newly built house with no gardens. Hardly any lawn for that matter. Humph.

So, slowly but surely we have getting the yard in order. As you can see from the front or our house, it has gardens, but it doesn’t look like the house of mad keen gardeners, hopefully it’s apparant that at least we try!

This may take a few posts, but I’ll take you for a tour around our yard. I’ll show you the good the bad and the ugly! Are you ready?

The driveway. My multi-talented Accountant put up our black fence. (Measured very exactly) I had a bit of dirt in between the driveway and the fence, so I planted liriopes in that gap. Mainly because they were said to have purple hycianth like flowers. They do fill the space nicely and look lovely and green, but in the last three years they have only flowered once.

Garden next to the front door. I love the big cycad. It was from my grandfather’s house, so has a sentimental component too. Unfortunately we have a dog. He is not helpful in the garden at all. He digs. This is one of his favourite spots. Therefore, this spot is often in disarray. Truly unfortunate for an entry garden. The clivias are very hardy plants, and most have survived many transplants, however, probably could be repositioned, but I don’t have the heart to move them until after they flower, which they haven’t done since they’ve been in that spot.

The other side of the entry. The dogs absolute favourite digging spot. I have recently planted all the plants except the cordyline. The dog has already killed several. He likes to dig a hole and sit and wait for us to get home. He doesn’t listen when I suggest digging a hole near his kennel.

The entry.

I might have to get a better picture. This was taken in the wrong light. It was early in the morning and I was outside with The Baby trying to distract him from waking the rest of the household. I love the blue pot planters. They were a gift from my mother. I also love the pink cordylines that I recently found. You can’t tell they are pink. They make a great contrast. I bought one plant, then realised it would be great in that pot. Sadly the pots had been empty for well over a year since the last cordyline was transplanted to the front garden. The first plant was starting to look scrappy, but was still bigger than the other plant by the time I finally got back to buy a second plant. Hopefully they will start looking more similar sometime soon. Fingers crossed!

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Happy Heart Story: Sexist Swimming Strokes

J Bomb was asked this morning by a friend of mine (who obviously does not have children and understand the swimming capabilities of 4 year olds) what stroke he swam. “Do you do butterfly when you swim?” she asked, clueless to the fact that his strokes were any movement that helps him avoid sinking.

He looked at her indiginantly. “I don’t do butterfly, I’m a boy. I don’t swim like a girl.”

“Oh,” she said, “what stroke do you swim?”

“I think I will swim shark stroke, boys like sharks.” he seriously replied.

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Happy Heart Story: Dinnertime Mess

I thought a bowl with a suction on the base would be a great advantage for the baby. Generally the baby treats bowls and other utensils as playtoys or missiles.

Interesting fact: the force required by one baby to remove a suctioned bowl from his highchair will ensure that the pasta contained within that bowl will fly to every corner of the room the highchair is situated in.

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Church vs Baddies?

In the car the car travelling home, J Bomb posed an interesting question.

“How does the church keep the baddies out?”

My response: “The church lets baddies come in. The church wants baddies to come in. That way the baddies will learn about God and find out that he loves him, and then maybe the baddie will decide to let God into his heart and become a goodie. Then if the Christians in church are nice to the baddie and help him, he’ll find it easier to stop being a baddie and will get used to doing good. Because when we know that God loves us, we want to do our best.”

Nice in theory. So easy to explain to a child. It’s us adults that need to remember we are required to share God’s love with ALL people.

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Happy Heart Story: Spectacles for the Party Pooper

We were in the local shopping centre and passed a Spectacle Store. Little did I know, but The J Bomb has obviously been paying close attention during television advertising. As we passed the storefront he commented, “That’s the place where you buy a pair of glasses if you have a friend who is no fun.” Initially perplexed, I then remembered a current advertising campaign, “For a limited time buy 2 pairs, get one free for you or for a friend who is not in a fund.”

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Anyone have anything to say?

Hi! I would love to hear some comments if you are reading this! It feels like I’m talking to no one, which I would have thought quite possible because I haven’t advertised the fact that I’m blogging yet. However, I can see there are some visitors. (Yay!) Would love some feedback and hear what you think, whether you’ve dropped in before, of if this is your first visit… (Pretty please?)

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Happy Heart Tips: Parties

Here are my tips for hosting a child’s party that will provide maximum fun for the Birthday Boy/Girl!

1. Choose a Theme.
    A theme can tie everything together, and provide focus while you are planning. Link it to something that    
    your child is currently interested in. Themes that my family have found successful: Teddy Bears Picnic, 
    Trains, Construction, Tools, Dinosaurs, Tiger, Fish, Princess, Hearts, Butterfly.

2. Plan, Plan, Plan!
    Start planning early. That way you can get started on some of the jobs that can be done ahead of time in
    order to minimize stress as the party gets closer. Write down your ideas, or you’ll forget them. The more
    brilliant the idea, the more likely it will be forgotten normally! Remember, google is your friend, do a 
    search on your theme and steal as many fabulous ideas as possible! Plan games to play (if the guests are
    old enough!) Plan food that will suit your theme. Homemade party food is always nice but not always as
    convenient.

3. Budget
    A heading to prove that I am an accountant’s wife!

    Even though it may not seem like it – parties are expensive. Plan a day that is within your budget. Don’t
    put anything on your credit card if you are going to pay interest on it. In fact, if you are in credit card debt,
    I question the wisdom of having a party in the first place. You can spend a fraction of the money in giving
    your child some treats. Plan for a low cost but special day. Your child will be happier in the long term
    having debt free parents rather than having an extravagant party for a few hours.

    I always find that planning in advance, helps me cut costs. I choose a theme a few months before and then
    keep my eye out for things that will suit the theme especially when they are on sale. Also buying gradually
    over time helps spread the cost rather than having it all in one week.

4. Construct a Guest List and Send Invitations
    I am quite liberal with my guest lists. I often have large parties, choosing to acknowledge the importance
    the invited guest has in the guest of honours life. I often include grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins,
    church friends and mothers group friends.

     I look forward to doing a smaller party sometime, I think it will be easier to make it more detailed and
     perhaps spend a bit more money on each guest for party food and party bags. One day …. I don’t know
     when, those guest lists just tend to grow… !

5.  Take plenty of photos and make sure your child has a special day!
     It may sound obvious, but sometimes you can be so busy rushing around on party day looking after
     everyone else, you forget about the guest of honour! Make sure your child is having as much fun as
     possible! Get photos to remember the occassion – I find it’s good to have someone snapping for you,
     (Aunty’s are great happy snappers!) that way you get some of the shots that you would miss because you
     are making sure the party keeps flowing.

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Trent turns 1

There is few things in life that make my heart happier than celebrating my children’s birthdays. So hooray for the baby’s first birthday! You always have to have the first birthday cake photo, and I love this one capturing the thrill (and possibly sugar high) of eating your first birthday cake. Trent’s birthday was on Tuesday and he also had a first birthday party on Saturday. So he has now properly celebrated the momentous occassion of turning one, and now he can get down to the busy business of being one!

Teddy Bear Party – Games

The party went well, we had a first birthday Teddy Bears Picnic. The kids brought along their favourite teddy’s. Which was great for a game of “Musical Bears” which was basically Musical Chairs only instead of the kids sitting on chairs, they had to sit their bears on it. A little easier for that age group, and the kids LOVED it!

 

We also had teddy bear competitions We determined who had the biggest, smallest, best dressed and ‘fastest’. (Although no first place was declared in the teddy race and everyone got a prize!)

 

 

Teddy Bear Party – Food

After games we had afternoon tea. I was particularly happy with the service of this. I found some noodle boxes, which I bought in bulk which made them quite affordable. I wish I had found them at this price sooner, because I would have decorated the plain white boxes with glue and ribbon, perhaps some felt teddies glued on, would have also made a nice touch. But anyway, I filled the boxes with food and handed them out. So easy! It saved on preparation time, because I didn’t make a selection of goodies, the only baking was enough teddy bear shaped sultana muffins (nice and easy) for each child. I also included tiny teddies, chocolate teddy bikkies, a bag of fruit, a bag of gummi bears and a sandwich cut out in a teddy shape. One drawback was food wastage, as not all children ate everything. You could get the parents to choose the foods to go into the boxes to avoid this, but it would be a little more time consuming.

 

Teddy Bear Party – Party bags.

I couldn’t bring myself to buy cheap plastic toys that fairly promptly are disposed of for a one year old’s party. Instead I did goodie bags. (Bought the small clear plastic bags in bulk several years ago, had just enough left for each child.) I made teddy bear shaped sugar biscuits, iced them and put them in the bag with a few soft lollies. (in honour of the gummy baby and his little toothy pegs!) Much more economical, didn’t contribute to landfill and homemade always feels nicer to give away anyway!

Of course the birthday cake had to be a teddy bear! It’s actually become a family tradition. Mum made this cake for myself and my 2 sisters and brother. J bomb also had him. I was a bit rushed icing the cake, (was out the night before and didn’t start icing until 11:00pm. Eeep!) so I wasn’t 100% happy with him, and somehow I cut him so he was quite lanky. But never mind, the size of The Baby’s smile when he first saw the cake reassured me that bubs aren’t to fussed with the finer details!

 

It was a lovely party. The weather was lovely, pefect for children playing in the garden. The baby had such fun toddling around to his heart’s content, there was always someone to look after him! Being a social baby, he also loved having so many kids to watch and be around. I think it’s safe to assume he enjoyed the celebration.

On his actual birthday The Baby (for now, fast turning into The Toddler!) decided to start the celebrations quite close to 4:01am, the time he was actually born 12 months earlier. Needless to say, The Accountant and I considered this gesture completely unnecessary. In the afternoon his 4 cousins, 2 Aunty’s, Grandma, Grandad, Great-Grandad and Great-Nana came around to visit and help consume cake and teddy bear biscuits. Quite the family affair! Such a blessed boy to be surrounded by people who so completely love and dote over him.

 

We feel so very blessed that God has added Trent to our family. He is our little mischievious monkey, full of cheeky smiles. He’s cuddly and cute as pie!

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Childbirthing Perks

The other day I found myself actually wishing I was in labour again.

When The Accountant and I are travelling, we often listen to the radio. Sometimes the airwaves if filled with such rabble it makes me agitated and gives me a headache. At which point I will inevitably say, “What is this rubbish?” as I reach to change the station. The Accountant will then inevitably say, “That’s AC DC. I like it. Leave it on.”

The other day as this scenario was playing out during a road trip, my mind recalled when I was in labour with The Baby. While gritting my teeth as another contraction hit, I was not at all soothed by the sound of AC DC blasting over the radio. As I went to change it, making my customary comment about it being rubbish, The Accountant made his customary defense of the band, at which point I snapped, “You don’t get to choose the music tonight.” Instantly The Accountant replied, “Fair enough” and not a word was said as I turned a CD with Diana Krall on for the remainder of the journey.

So, as I listened under duress to that awful music the other day, I actually remember wistfully thinking about the power I had over the radio 2 hours before giving birth.

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Happy Campers!

I met The Accountant in 1996, and I think ever since the start of our relationship The Accountant has always been trying to convince me of the merits of camping. I’m just not a camping type of girl, my family didn’t go camping on our holidays and I like my creature comforts. The Accountant has many fond memories of camping with his family from weekends up at the coast fishing and four wheel driving to heavy duty camping for months as they travelled around Australia.

This weekend was a momentous occassion for our family. We bought a tent!

The Accountant’s reasoning for camping has been making more and more sense now that we have a family – particularly with two sons. We will be able to getaway more often for short breaks since we don’t have to pay hefty accomodation costs, very important to the Accountant. Most people I talk to who did camp as kids have many fond memories of the experience – unlike my memories – I think you just need to get into your camping groove. The J Bomb had picked up on the talk about tents and camping and has been super excited.

We decided to go camping last weekend, however because we have been so busy lately, we didn’t have time to buy a tent. Some would then reserve the weekend for buying the tent and postpone the trip. Nope. Not the Accountant. He has waited a long time for this event. We went into town, after The Baby had his sleep – The Baby is still sick, and not a particularly happy chappy. Bought a tent after going to two stores, then back to the first one. We decided to go all out, this was a long term investment after all! We got a three room tent with 100 denier fly, so it shouldn’t leak in the rain.

Went home, chucked clothes into bags and anything else we could think of, loaded the car up and headed to Caloundra! Setting up the tent went smoothly. The boys loved playing in the dirt while we were setting it up. They are starting to get to the stage where they want the same thing. There hasn’t been full fights yet, but The Baby certainly yells, cries, growls when J takes something off him. The point of contention was the little shovel with a pointy end. I don’t know why The Baby formed an attachment to it, poor J kept trying to substitute other things, because he was trying to dig, and the point was better. The baby refused to share though.

It was 5:00 by the time we were all set up, The J Bomb was keen to try out the pool, so Daddy and him had a quick swim, followed with a walk on Dicky’s Beach. After showers, we wandered across to a gourmet fish and chips store for a tasty meal of prawns, beer battered chips and fish. Mine was barramundi with a pesto and Japanese crumb. Totally delish.

Back home to our three rooms.

Not the greatest nights sleep, The Accountant had forgotten to pack the port-a-cot, so the baby was with us, and had a tendency for constant movement and wanted to cuddle up close. Of course he slept, well, like a baby. Mummy and Daddy not so much.

J Bomb and I woke up early the next morning, so we headed down and checked out the beach. Then we bought some muffins and juice from the bakery for brekky.

We had a lazy Sunday morning on the beach and in the swimming pool before packing up the tent. I had been worried about setting up the tent, and had not even considered the complexities of pulling it apart. I tell you, folding the fly was such a challenge! Our bag full of tent gear was considerably larger then when we arrived. No doubt we will perfect the process in time. While we were there folding it all up, while the boys played happily in the dirt. I looked at the Accountant and had a flashback of all the times I had played “Mummy’s and Daddy’s” as a girl. I had such a sense of contentment and awe that we weren’t just playing anymore. We were the Mummy and Daddy, and we I feel a profound sense of gratitude to God that we have been given these roles.

Lunch at the surf club at Kings Beach. The J Bomb had a play in the water spouts on the esplanade. Then onwards home with two tired happy little campers in the back.

So am I a happy camper after our debut family camping trip? Well, during the overnight trip, I did have many flashbacks of why I don’t like camping. Shared toilets/showers, (even if they were clean), noisy campsites, lack of privacy, guys spewing over walkways from the big night they had, lack of sleep, dirt… But when I looked at the happy smiles on my boys faces, (Accountant included) I think that the lack of creature comforts are a small sacrifice for the great opportunity to create family memories. So, my camping days have begun, and I’m actually looking forward to the next chance we will have for a getaway.
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