Garden things in July 2015

top down view of cos lettuce growing in a garden bed

It's been a while since the last Garden Thing, so let's get into it, eh? These are my cos lettuces in our no-dig garden bed. They indeed survived and appear to be thriving. Hooray, the garden bed is OK!

side view of cos lettuce growing in a garden bed

Except... are they actually cos lettuce? That's what the label said, but they don't look like what you get in a pub Caesar salad. Maybe they grow into that - we will see.

top down view of my new strawberry tower

We finally have a strawberry tower. I've wanted one of these for so long, but kept getting stuck on fretting over how to make it. Eventually, I decided to just suck it and see. Plants are hardy - if it doesn't work, I'll just put them somewhere else.

But looks like it has worked. It's been a couple weeks and the strawberry isn't dead. There's even new leaves growing.

The easy, cheap way to build a strawberry tower

Get 3 medium-sized pots, and maybe a little one to go on top. Fill with soil, stack, then plant. Water well for the first week or two.

Some tutorials tell you to cut holes into the pots - more holes means more spots for leaves to poke out - but I'm not down with the cutting, in case I need these pots for something else.

tomato seedling in a garden bag bed

I have two garden bag beds, containing the soil I've been cultivating over the last two years. Over the weekend, I found a little tomato plant growing out of it. At least, I think it's a tomato. It looks right, but the leaves don't have that tangy tomato smell (tomatine?). This bag bed gets full sun for most of the day so it's the perfect spot for my pre-season tomato.

carrot growing in a garden bag bed

In the other garden bag bed is a carrot crop. Not a particularly exciting one - I was hoping to have them harvested by now, but carrots take a long time, and I planted them quite late in the season. So, we'll just wait and wait. Once these come out, we'll give chilli another go.

a pleasant pot of catnip

Potted some catnip and cat grass too. Every time we've tried to grow these, they've ended up getting mangled or dead. But we're trying again in some nicer pots, in a nicer garden, to see whether they'll live longer.

At the very back, to the left, you can see a bromeliad, though I'm not sure what. It should be dead by now, but every so often, I notice it's grown a tad longer, so I'm hopeful it'll grow into something remarkable enough for me to figure out the name of.

Back and centre is a Crassula tetragona, grown from cuttings taken last October. Yes, they're still alive!

Partially in the photo, on the far right, is... drumroll... an arabica coffee tree! :D They have them at Bunnings now, so you don't have to drive all the way out to the larger nurseries to find one. It'll take 18 months or so before it bears fruit, but fingers crossed, we may eventually get enough for half a cup of coffee. It's growing in a pot, so it can come with us when we eventually move again.

a little succulent trio

OK, last one - my donkey tail Sedum morganianum with a freshly trimmed Crassula ovata (Jade plant), and a Lithops I've had for a couple of years. It wasn't looking happy indoors, each new leaf pair smaller than the last, so we'll try this outside instead.

All right, it's cold and I'm thirsty. Time for tea before bed. :) What are you growing in your garden?

Project Hair: Day 460

hair length at day 460

Uh, yeah, I meant to share regular check-ins of hair growth, but have managed to miss the last 380 days. Ahem.

My mum commented on how healthy my hair looks these days. I told her I've been taking care of it for this project, but the biggest effort is merely towelling off instead of blowdrying. My hair still gets dry despite conditioning. I'm still using supermarket shampoo and conditioner. I still shower in hot hot hot water, especially when it's cold cold cold. Every 3 to 6 months, I see my wonderful clever hairdresser, get a wash, treatment, trim and chinwag.

When my hair gets long, it starts to curl - not tight curls like noodles, but waves. I've always liked this. I keep my hair clipped or tied as much as possible, because I'm annoyed by the feeling of having it around my face, but it's nice to experience the odd flash of vanity every now and then.

I'm not taking kelp regularly enough for it to make a difference, or even know if it's doing anything. I am, however, taking fish oil regularly, and can confidently say this has zero impact on how fast my hair grows. It's just half an inch per month. All the way.

My kelp pills won't last forever, though, so could be worth taking one a day until they're gone - just to see.

Hair progress: 18.5cm
Rate since last check-in (day 80): ½" per month (expected)

100 Days of Teacup (Set 5)

Brush strokes set

Fuck yeah, I am done. Pardon my language, but after 100 days of commitment, I feel I've earned a few swear words. Promise I won't spend them all at once.

This is set 5.

Day 81: Coloured shapes cutouts

Day 81: Coloured shapes cutouts. Decorated my sketchbook with pieces of a Kikki-K sticker book cover.

Day 82: A teacup-shaped cryptic crossword about tea

Day 82: A teacup-shaped cryptic crossword about tea. I put a lot of effort into this, yet still it might not be any good. There's a printable at bit.ly/crypteacrossword if this is your sort of thing.

Day 83: Stolen coaster

Day 83: Stolen coaster from Dominion League in Perth.

Day 84: Brush strokes 2

Day 84: Brush strokes 2. Acrylic on canvas. Working on a set from day 68http://sanlive.com/100-days-of-teacup-set-4/.

Day 85: Brush strokes 3

Day 85: Brush strokes 3. Acrylic on canvas.

Day 86: Brush strokes 4

Day 86: Brush strokes 4. Acrylic on canvas. The set is complete!

Day 87: Hobonichi teacup

Day 87: Hobonichi teacup. I am in love with my Hobonichi AVEC Cousin, a beautiful planner/notebook from Japan.

Day 88: Stencil teacup

Day 88: Stencil teacup, done with my 20-year old Caran D'ache crayons. The stencilling was what sold me on them - soft gradients, lovely colours.

Day 89: Teacups in my house 1

Day 89: Teacups in my house 1. A drawing in a mini-zine.

Day 90: Teacup on a woven table

Day 90: Teacup on a woven table. This table was given to us by previous neighbours as they were moving house. The woven top is rotting away; I plan to replace it with wood. Maybe jarrah or plain ol' pine, or whatever nice thing they have at Perth Wood School.

Day 91: Sewing drawing

Day 91: Sewing drawing. Kind of fun Would try again.

Day 92: Teacups in my house 2

Day 92: Teacups in my house 2. "Lintu" is Finnish for bird. :)

Day 93: The calm centre with tea

Day 93: The calm centre with tea. I received a letter from my penpal in The Netherlands. It had some stickers in it, one of which was a teacup!

Day 94: Tea and craggy biscuits

Day 94: Tea and craggy biscuits. Fountain pen ink on cotton paper.

Day 95: Fabric ink on calico

Day 95: Fabric ink on calico. Drawing testers for a sewing project.

Day 96: Waiting for tea

Day 96: Waiting for tea. Watercolour on cotton paper.

Day 97: Strawberry cup

Day 97: Strawberry cup, to match my new strawberry tower in the garden.

Day 98: Teacups in my house 3

Day 98: Teacups in my house 3.

Day 99: Teacups in my house 4

Day 99: Teacups in my house 4. There's actually a 5th type of teacup in my house too, but it's not very interesting to draw, and I can only fit 4 in the mini-zine.

Day 100: Acrylic on wood

Day 100: Acrylic on wood.

And that's it. :)))

Finishing felt great. Spending the following evening without this on my mind felt even greater. I went to training, I came home, I went to bed - THAT WAS IT.

Brush strokes set

It does not matter how slowly you go as long as you do not stop.

Not sure if Confucius actually said that, but it's a nice thought, especially in the context of this exercise. I started my 100 days hoping to develop more creative habits in my everyday life.

At the start, I was nervous about art, about my ideas being lame. But pretty quickly, it became apparent how little that matters. Coincidentally, perhaps through the Baader-Meinhof Phenomenon, this became apparent in other areas of my life too - that it doesn't matter if the idea is crap. You having done something makes it significantly better, and often enough, what you end up with will suffice.

In the weeks that followed, I realised art doesn't have to be complex or difficult. You can do some pretty cool things without too much effort or commitment. Sure, inspiration and innovation are fun, but it takes perseverance and focus to turn them into something you can appreciate. Effort makes an idea matter.

Reassuring, isn't it? To know you've already succeeded at something just by having a go. Whether you hit the target is immaterial - you could well hit it on your next go. Of course, we're only talking about trying out art projects here. Don't take this mentality to the Roulette table.

It's only been a few days since the project ended, but more than before, I feel in the habit of creating. I can't attribute this to any one cause. Having such an intense track record gets me feeling more capable and motivated. But it could just as easily be that my art supplies are conveniently arranged now, so it's easier to dive in and make something. Maybe it's simply coincidence, a by-product of our new house having a better layout and more room for tools. Maybe it's the combination of all these things.

Thank you, everyone, for your support, hearts, likes, comments, and advice. I'm glad I had a go. Whether the new habits stick remains to be seen, but for the moment, I got what I wanted out of it. And now I'm going to savour the feeling of it being over. :)

100 Days of Teacup (Set 4)

my little filofax

This little Filofax Pocket Metropol planner has been super useful in keeping track of teacup days. I've enjoyed ripping pages out as the weeks pass - a feeling that gets only more satisfying as we get closer to 100. :)

So, set 4.

Day 61: Envelope cutout

Day 61: Envelope cutout. If you've ever made a zine, you'll be familiar with the happy feeling of finding a cute pattern inside of boring official envelopes. Ah, joy in mundane things.

Day 62: Tea with cream

Day 62: Tea with cream. Fighting winter skin with Michael's Olivara Skin Cream. This makes it look like I'm conscientious about self-care, but that's a lie. My skin is scaly and crinkly, but I remembered to moisturise that day and celebrated with a teacup.

Day 63: Family crest

Day 63: Family crest. I stuffed up the Latin and had to fix it.

Day 64: Teacups in the paper

Day 64: Teacups in the paper. I wonder if the people in this picture will ever see the tea I served them.

Day 65: Etchings in white-out on adzuki beans

Day 65: Etchings in white-out on adzuki beans.

Day 66: Wire skeleton, acrylic sinew

Day 66: Wire skeleton, acrylic sinew. The paint was still wet the next day.

Day 67: Fuzzy lines

Day 67: Fuzzy lines.

Day 68: Brush strokes

Day 68: Brush strokes. Acrylic on a very small canvas.

Day 69: Watercolour practice

Day 69: Watercolour practice. Terrible perspective and brush control, but it was fun to try painting a 'fine' pattern with watercolours. Something to try again later.

Day 70: Watercolour crap in a cup

Day 70: Watercolour crap in a cup. My fingers itch now to paint some postcards. Maybe on proper watercolour paper instead of getting them printed, so they're extra special. :)

Day 71: Triptych in colour

Day 71: Triptych in colour. Piece from day 49, coloured with acrylics.

Day 72: Painted clay egg

Day 72: Painted clay egg. After this photo was taken, one of the cats claimed it and now I don't know where it is.

Day 73: Teacup topiary

Day 73: Teacup topiary. In my new colouring book. Ahh~ such relax.

Day 74: PVA glue

Day 74: PVA glue. I thought this would turn out more like a decal, but it's just a slightly gummy piece of PVA. Maybe a viable medium for a bigger, more intricate piece?

Day 75: Whiteout on plastic

Day 75: Whiteout on plastic. I bought stationery from Char's Planner Goodies, and it arrived in recycled packaging. I don't mean new store-bought stationery made from recycled materials - I mean Char had taken packing materials from around the house and used them to package my stuff. I love that. :) Yay, recycling!

Day 76: Ink on wood

Day 76: Ink on wood. This is an off-cut of American rock maple from a woodwork project at Perth Wood School. We went to learn how to make pigeonhole shelves. It's nice being surrounded by people working on projects they're passionate about, while you're working on yours.

Day 77: Ink on a petal

Day 77: Ink on a petal. Camellias are blooming in our garden. :)

Day 78: Tealeaf teacup

Day 78: Tealeaf teacup. This is peppermint tea, so it should actually be called a 'tisane' or herbal 'infusion'.

Day 79: Teacup on a punchie

Day 79: Teacup on a punchie. I bought a flower-shaped hole punch. It's surprisingly sturdy and crisp, and works on firm paper too.

Day 80: Shortbread and teacup

Day 80: Shortbread and teacup. I used to be able to stuff my face with shortbread, but now after learning how to make it, every mouthful is guilt. Tasty, tasty guilt. Spoiler alert - you are pretty much eating butter and sugar, stiffened by white flour. Out of a batch of 16, I ate 3, so that's not too bad.

And here we are - the home stretch.

The point of quitting full-time work was to get my life in order and accomplish things I'm passionate about, but lately, I've wondered if I have the balls for it. I decided for 100 days, teacups would be the thing I hope to accomplish, but it's been 50/50 lately on teacups that slot into my life versus teacups I stop and make time for. To succeed at the things that matter to you, you have to stop and make time for them.

I see friends starting businesses, writing books, making stationery, throwing everything they have at their goals and realising success. I feel tiny by comparison. Not that I believe in comparison. More I envy their passion and focus. Or maybe I'm letting the hyperbolic lens of social media distort the view from here.

Everyone has their main quest, and I know mine isn't to run a business, write books or make stationery. I have to consciously remind myself every day not be swayed by shiny things or pressured by other people's successes and methods, however enticing they may be. Just because an opportunity is good, it doesn't mean it's good for you.

I'm also consciously rewriting my definition of success. Nothing is perfect. Nothing is excellent all the time. Sometimes done will do. So maybe I can feel okay about at least fitting a half-arsed teacup into the overstuffed days.

I'd hope this is a poignant life lesson from set 4, but it feels more like a grumble. I kept my head down and pressed on for this one. Tonight, I will make a wishlist for my life after teacups, then think long and hard about my life choices. Or put my feet up and sit in front of the heater. Whatever I'm more passionate about at the time.

Bloom in weather

pink Camellia japonica

We have what I think is a Camellia japonica in our garden. It has been budding for a few weeks, and chose the most miserable grey patch of days to flower.

Of course, when I say miserable, I mean totally awesome. Thick, woolly winds. White noise rain to sleep to. Humidity and cloud cover keeping warmth close to the ground. It's still wintery and cold, but this being Perth, it's still quite nice.

That said, I have felt a bit shithouse this past fortnight. I blame it on getting too caught up in work-work and home-work, and not getting outside enough for sun and fresh air. Friends have recommended getting a blood test done for vitamin D levels, but I've had enough blood tests for a while.

Assuming vitamin D might actually be the problem, I'm going to get out more with my arms uncovered and be conscientious with food, and see if the low moods go away. Cancer Council Australia recommends 2-3 hours of winter sunlight, spread over the week - I can manage that.

The plan for workdays now is to spend at least 15 minutes in view of the sky, sometime in the middle of the day. Even indoors by a sunny (or cloudy) window is fine.

I tried to get some sun in the garden this afternoon, but we've been overcast and stormy all day. Nevertheless, I planted some cos lettuce seedlings in the no-dig bed, squatting out in the drizzle while cold, cold rain spattered on my bare arms. Surely I soaked up a bit of good UV through the clouds. Didn't want to jinx my brave winter seedlings with a photo, but if they survive the week, I will show you them.

The other day, we did get a couple hours of bright, bright sunlight, so I stood in the yard for 8 minutes and took a picture of this watercolour. That was okay. :)

watercolour painting with

Mm, I can hear the wind howling outside. Time for some tea.

100 Days of Teacup (Set 3)

teacup sculpture with messy background

I'm never doing this again. I'll see it through this time, but boy, I really felt the weight of it here. Or is this just the swansong of laziness and malaise? Will I emerge, after 100 days, a creative genius who shits gold and teacups?

Here is set 3.

Day 41: In dust

Day 41: In dust. 20+ days ago, we were still in the old house, still packing. It feels ages away now, even though we're still in the process of moving stuff. I never realised how messy my desk was until this day.

Day 42: Scrunched up paper bag

Day 42: Scrunched up paper bag. I was in the middle of a Windward game and didn't want to leave my seat. Necessity really is the mother of invention.

Day 43: Sewing pins

Day 43: Sewing pins. It very slightly triggers my trypophobia (don't look that up).

Day 44: Theta teacups

Day 44: Theta teacups. I've been drawing teacups in my filofax to remind me to make one each day - over time, they got so sloppy, they started to look like theta symbols. So onto a postcard they went.

Day 45: Tea light

Day 45: Tea light. A desperation teacup; my art supplies were packed away. It has given me the urge to draw on everyday things.

Day 46: Rubber stamp teacup

Day 46: Rubber stamp teacup. Cut and delivered by CustomMadeStamps.com.au. If I could do this over, I'd make the cup rim bigger to prevent blotting, but this will do for now.

Day 47: Ink on felt foot

Day 47: Ink on felt foot. We moved all the big furniture that day. It was our first night in the new house. :)

Day 48: Drawing my feelings

Day 48: Drawing my feelings. On the evening after a good day.

Day 49:

Day 49: "Tea Party" triptych in pencil. To be coloured on another day.

Day 50: Air-dry clay

Day 50: Air-dry clay. To be painted on another day.

Day 51: Shadow box

Day 51: Shadow box. My boss made me a cardboard teacup in a knowledge-sharing meeting. Making a shadow box has been on my craft bucket list for ages. Now it has happened.

Day 52: Beads and craft wire

Day 52: Beads and craft wire. This was very fiddly, it hurt, and made my fingers smell. I didn't remember til the very end that there were brand new needle-nose pliers in the other room. Bloody heck.

Day 53: Masking tape sculpture

Day 53: Masking tape sculpture. With paper tablecloth from @corridorgirl.

Day 54: A Yuliia Bahniuk fan art

Day 54: A @yuliia_bahniuk fan art. Check out her drawings - they're adorable!

Day 55: Steaming cup

Day 55: Steaming cup. Our new mirror. Our new bathroom. Foggy from the best new shower with hot water that doesn't run out like a bastard.

Day 56: Teacup in the sky

Day 56: Teacup in the sky. Drawn while waiting for my Secret Garden colouring book to arrive. Maybe I will colour this another day.

Day 57: Chia seeds and pear carving

Day 57: Chia seeds and pear carving. Caught this just in time. The following day, my pears started turning brown and drippy.

Day 58: Hints, lines

Day 58: Hints, lines. I wish I had used colour.

Day 59: Tea Times

Day 59: Tea Times. Masthead for a new, very tiny zine project.

Day 60: Curry

Day 60: Curry. Out at dinner with friends.

Set dragged on a bit. Sorry to sound negative. Some pieces were fun, and it was nice having an excuse to try things, but I'm feeling antsy. I want to explore my other projects, but that means twice the teacup effort the next day, thrice the day after that.

Dealing with desperation teacups was a fun challenge. I think the lesson for this set has been in making the most of what I have on hand, even if it's a little odd. This is especially pronounced when I can't find things, or when I'm bored of the usual things, or when I have plans that don't involve sitting at home doodling.

Curry, a paper bag, an etching on a pear, pins in a pincushion - I like to think this proves you can make 'art' anywhere if you had to. Cavemen painted on their living room walls with rocks stolen from another caveman's back yard. We have so much more available to us today. Perhaps it's fair to say there's no excuse for not trying?

Though, excuses seemed significant for this set too. Teacups gave me an excuse to draw a colouring book page, draw a masthead for a zine, try making a teapot out of tape. I feel I never would have tried without undertaking this project. So maybe it's fairer to say the only excuse for not trying is not having an excuse to try.

I will see this through.