Hello, my name is Sandy.

Shut up and eat your nutrient paste

We've been eating Soylent. Yep. It's not as gross or bland as I expected. Certainly looks like it could be made of people, but tastes like biscuits. The one we got is vanilla Aussielent. It's formulated to Australian RDI (recommended daily intake) standards, which meant nothing to me until I had a serve and felt full. No, actually, I only had half a serve, and it did me fine.

It blows my mind how cheap this is compared to real food. Not that it's fake food, but like... aaah. The whole thing blows my mind. It works out to $4 a meal, but it's not junk food. HOW CAN THIS BE?!?!

Anyway, I... like it? I think. It's only been a couple of days, and I'm not replacing all my meals - no chance of that until they make a NongShim flavour. If you're a protein shake kind of person, this could be for you. But I'm having mine hot and thick like a Horlicks. I hope the hot water isn't de-nourishing my nutrients.

Aussielent soylent powder

This first month of my new freelancing/making/homesteading life has tempered many of the anxieties that plagued me throughout my career. It's been interesting to discover that even accomplished and proven freelancers/creatives worry about being terrible. Award-winning Moby, for example:

"When you're working by yourself you can lose objectivity so quickly and molehills become mountains. I'll be working on a song and if I can't get the kick drum to sound right I'll think I'm a failure and walk around Manhattan, mourning my fate. It doesn't matter that I've made lots of records in the past. All that matters is I can't get one kick drum right. And all I can think about is my career's over and I'm going to have to become a fries chef at McDonalds."

--- Moby (pg 63, Future Music 84, July 1999)

(Thanks, Kohan, for sending me this!)

Anyway, the big lesson I learned last month was that it doesn't matter if you feel like a fake (impostor syndrome) or not good enough (perfectionism). What matters is getting the job done, and having it not be just plain shit. The best part is that worrying about this at all shows you're capable of making something better than shit. Creativity will happen through you - most of the time, you just have to get out of the way and let it do its thing. Otherwise you don't get paid and you can't afford to eat. Not even $4 soylents.

I don't expect to wake up tomorrow feeling like a million bucks forever, but today, I have a slightly better process for dealing with the lows. Maybe next week, it will be slightly better still.

And the highs that kept me going:

  • Learning more about plants - the different types, how to care for them, and what they're suitable for. I'm working on a plants site that I will show you soon.

  • Landing a private gardening job. Self-paced hours and room for creativity. My client wants to grow vegetables and herbs too. As a horticulturist, subsistence gardening is the area I'm most interested in, so you can imagine how stoked I am to veggie up a piece of someone's backyard.

  • Learning how to change a tap. And it not leaking after. (CAN YOU BELIEVE IT)

  • Making progress with making. Very slow progress, but I'm OK with that. I have almost all my materials to make my first batch of stuff. More on that later.

  • Getting a guest article accepted by GardenDrum - wee!! If you love cats and gardens, go read it and let me know what you think: How to design and plant a garden for cats

Mona checks out an ivy nook

Postcards from the Kings Park Botanic Garden

WA Botanic Garden 50-year commemorative sign

The WA Botanic Garden in Kings Park is 50 this year. And ABC said the floral show would be spectacular, so of course we went down. It was a lovely high-20s day, the sun was out, some of the plants smelled like candy, we saw ducklings, and it was just fabulous.

Here, enjoy some pictures!

various types of Kangaroo Paw in a garden bed

Kangaroo Paw (Angiozanthos x). I love ones with fingers that go from one colour to another. They remind me of the old Rocket ice creams.

Kangaroo Paw flower bud

Flower bud from what I think is a Tall Kangaroo Paw (Anigozanthos flavidus).

Light pink waxflower bush in bloom

White waxflower bush in bloom

Saw heaps of waxflower (Chamelaucium x) bushes. So many that it was starting to get weird. Then I realised we were in the waxflower section, and everything would be all right.

Everlastings looking up at the sky

a field of Everlastings

Paper daisies (also called Everlastings). I love these flowers. Sitting in a field of them was delightful. And watching bees bumble around, even moreso.

a bee gathering pollen

Bush Flame pea

This is a Bush Flame pea (Chorizema varium), an endangered native legume.

leaves of the Woolly Wattle

This is a Woolly Wattle (Acacia lanuginophylla). It's listed as vulnerable, threatened by vegetation clearing, grazing and salinity. It's such a strange plant. You could easily mistake it for a fake because the leaves feel like crafting felt. Touching it hit home for me what a shame it would be to lose our native plants. There's a lot of weird shit in Australia, which I think makes us quite special.

seed pod from a Melaleuca or Callistemon tree

This weird thing is a seed pod from a type of Melaleuca or Callistemon shrub.

bee gathering pollen from a green flower

This is a bee enjoying his summer holiday. Well, no, but it looks a bit like it, don't you think? :) I was walking past this very low-growing prostrate bush, thinking it was just a boring bunch of groundcover leaves, when a bee landed on it and started feasting. Then I realised the flowers were green. Are they just young, or did this species evolve to have flowers that match the leaves? What made this a desirable survival trait? What animals preferred green sources of food? All these questions, just from seeing a flower that wasn't a pretty colour.

scented Boronia flowers

This is a Scented Boronia (Boronia megastigma), and it smells delicious. Like the fake fruit flavours in Japanese candy. There is a hipster café in Maylands (Mrs. S) whose table display sometimes has Scented Boronia. If you can't make it to Kings Park, go to this café and sniff the flowers there.

Swamp Star Flower in Kings Park

The Swamp Star Flower (Calytrix breviseta subsp. breviseta) is cute and pretty, and very endangered. :( The Garden doesn't even have a full plant. The tiny specimen they have is grafted onto a hardy rootstock.

a Banksia flower bud

I may have gone a bit mental photographing Banksias. They are just too cute.

fuzzy round flower bud of a native Australian shrub

(not sure if this one is a Banksia, though)

another Banksia flower bud

big pinecone looking Banksia flower bud

Banksia seed pod shedding petals

Banksia in flower

Hee hee, looks like it's wearing a cardigan.

Balga grass gum tree

This is a Balga (Xanthorrhoea pressii), also known as a grass tree or, in antiquated times, a blackboy. Fun fact: flowering can be stimulated by fire.

photographer taking a photo

Ah, a wild photographer in his natural habitat!

large artificial pond and stream

The Garden is well designed. Lots of nooks and crannies. Even with people wandering about, it's pretty easy to find a quiet spot and feel like the crowd is ages away.

native Australian plant, late in flower

I'm not sure what type of plant this is. Looking at the leaves, maybe another Banksia? It looked very cool though.

top down view native Australian shrub flower

Cray cray, huh?

puffy yellow wattle flowers

A type of wattle. I'm not sure which type, but aaaaaa~ so cute.

Cranbrook Bell flowers

A Cranbrook Bell (Darwinia meeboldii).

ducklings at Kings Park

And some ducks. ^___^

My fern and some ducks

Maidenhair fern (Adiantum aethiopicum) in a weathered pot

I have a new study buddy. I named her Tuesday's Child, to help me remember when to water her. Though it's hard to pin a weekly watering schedule on indoor plants, cos moisture doesn't evaporate as it would outdoors. Still, it's useful to be reminded.

She is a Maidenhair fern (Adiantum aethiopicum). There are over 200 species of maidenhair, each with a variety of cultivars. They like warmth and humidity, neither of which have been abundant in my study, but the landlord tells me this room really heats up in summer. I hope so. The older I get, the more I love warm weather. Maybe I am a fern.

We went to Kings Park yesterday to check out the Botanic Garden. This is the first time I've made the effort to go somewhere specifically to look at native Australian flora. Normally, I don't care, because the suburbs are already so full of native plants. But this year is the Garden's 50th birthday. And I've lived in Australia for so long. It was just... time.

I'm glad we went. Everything is in bloom now, and the place is just lovely. And we saw ducklings!

ducklings in Kings Park

Aaaaaaaaaaah SO CUTE.

Garden photos to come. :)

When setbacks are things to work around

screenshot of my writing folio site,

My writing folio is up. Wanna see?

I spent three days agonising over what platform to use. Three days. I remember when I'd have a new site up within hours of wanting it - back when we weren't so spoiled for choice of free website providers.

Wait. I take that back. We did have plenty of choices, but not so many good ones. Today, Weebly and Wix make it so easy to instantly publish a nice site. Weebly moreso, because you get a nicer URL with the free account. is also good, but I didn't need all those features. In the end, I went with old mate Tumblr for the super simple, pleasurable user experience.


For the last 10 days, my feet have been shuffling awkwardly in whichever direction felt best. Lots of trial and error going on here, and overcoming bad habits of self-doubt. Hanging over me is the constant fear that this won't work, that it'll never work, and I'm stupid for thinking it could. I feel like an impostor and wishful thinker.

But people tell me these feelings are normal, and I must stay the course. I dare not look too far ahead in case I get distracted by shiny things, but it seems safe to look back and reflect a bit, so here goes.

In the last week-and-a-bit, I have:

  • Experienced much fear, anxiety, insecurity and worry. It helps knowing everyone goes through this when adjusting to new circumstances, but it still sucks.

  • Also experienced excitement, optimism and what I can only describe as luck. This keeps me going. When obstacles feel less like setbacks and more like things to work around, you know things can't be too bad... or can they?

  • Consulted on someone's garden. That felt very good. I love doing this.

  • Been given a chance to try for a guest blogging spot at a reputable gardening site. It took all of my courage to contact them, so hearing back blew my mind a bit.

  • Tested my latest batch of homemade soap. It turned out better than expected. A couple more trial runs and I'll be ready to make my first soap 'product'. (Shame it takes 8 weeks to know if a batch is good. See you next year.)

  • Started playing games on Lumosity. They're supposed to be good for your brain, but I can't speak for the science of it. At the very least, small victories with cute pictures give me placebo confidence.

The plan for today is to work on my guest blog story and make a fabric & haberdashery shopping list. I have almost all the supplies I need to start sewing. More to come.

Project Hair: Day 506

hair length at day 506

Since the last check-in, I've been taking kelp almost every night to see if it would make a difference to the rate my hair grows.

Kelp is a large, broad seaweed, known for growing very fast, with some types gaining up to half a metre a day. Certain nutrients found in kelp are also found in bodily functions to do with hair growth, so it didn't sound too illogical when my hairdresser said she heard it might help.

Now, I wasn't born yesterday. I can usually tell what an over-simplified claim sounds like, and how to look stuff up. But I wanted to indulge in some citizen science, and experiment for myself.

I can confirm that kelp tablets did not make my hair grow faster over the past month-and-a-bit. Here's the breakdown:

  • I took one (1) Thompson's One-A-Day Kelp 1400 tablet almost every night before bed. The times I skipped were due to drinking too much (and forgetting) or feeling fragile (and not wanting to swallow an uncoated pill - yuck).

  • All up, I would have had about 40-ish pills in the last 46 days.

  • I have a decent diet and a moderately active lifestyle. I had not been experiencing hair loss or thyroid problems (to my knowledge). I wonder if kelp only makes a difference to people who do have issues beforehand.

  • The tablets did not make me feel healthier, happier or more energetic; nor did they alleviate or worsen my normal unhealthy, unhappy and fatigued periods.

  • My hair is currently the healthiest it's ever been, but it got this way before I tried the tablets.

My experience aligns with what Livestrong and The Superfoods say about kelp and hair growth. I'm not sure how credible these sites are, but they were in the upper echelons of what I could find regarding this specific hair growth claim.

So, I would continue to eat kelp in my meals, but no more or no less than usual. I certainly wouldn't recommend spending money on pills just to make your hair grow faster. If you have a medical issue that it might help with, you probably should take a doctor's advice instead of mine. :)

Might wait a few months before the next check-in. Watching hair grow is like watching paint dry.

Hair progress: 19.5cm
Rate since last check-in (day 460): approx. ½" per month (bit less, but I'd like to leave room for measuring errors)

Making and writing

vinca seeds sprouting in newspaper

To everyone who has said in the last year that I should freelance, start a business, write more, etc. - you were right. You told me so. I am now a maker and a writer. :)

I left my part-time job yesterday. After finishing full-time work, I thought I could maintain what I had for at least a year or two, but only a few weeks ago, realised it's time to take the next step.

So, my plan - holy shit, I have a plan - will be to:

  • write
  • craft, and
  • get experience in the disciplines I want to grow in.

Just in the last week, I've gotten answers to so many long-standing questions about tax, superannuation, personal management, networking, income, finding clients, and maintaining sanity when working for oneself.

There is more to say, but it's only day 1. So far, I have taken a photo of a bee in my garden, gone for a swim, and tidied the study a bit to make room for things to come. This afternoon, I will work on my folio, bid for writing projects, and read about business insurance.

Welcome to my exciting new life.