Hello, my name is Sandy.

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. :)

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 1)

The 100 Day Project, how to play

Earlier this month, I pledged to spend 100 days of teacup in #The100DayProject.

May I show you my first 20 teacups?

Day 1: A study of edges + shadows

Day 1: A study of edges + shadows. Pencil and watercolour crayon drawing of peppermint tea, enjoyed at Sydney Airport on our way home from the farm. The crayons still work nicely, even after 20+ years.

Day 2: Acrylic on canvas

Day 2: Acrylic on canvas. I wanted to try making textures with paint, as people have told me you can do with oils. Oils are nicer to work with, but I will stick with acrylic until I learn not to get paint on everything.

Day 3: Origami

Day 3: Origami. Original "teatime" design by Tomohiro Tachi. I followed the MrViolinPeter tutorial on youtube. It looks complicated, but if you can fold 45° angles, you can totally do this.

Day 4: Crochet teacup

Day 4: Crochet teacup. I was really pleased with this, even though I'm not in love with amigurumi. The free Lion Brand tutorial is easy-teasy. :) The base is weighted with beans, the rest is filled with wadding.

Day 5: Paper art teacup

Day 5: Paper art teacup. A friend gave me a stack of beautiful washi paper, which I left untouched in a box of precious things. I found it again while KMing and decided it was time to help those beautiful papers fulfil their life purpose.

Day 6: Doodle on a napkin

Day 6: Doodle on a napkin stolen from a whiskey workshop at Whipper Snapper Distillery. If you're in Perth, love whiskey, and enjoy learning interesting things, go sign up for the 2-hour workshop. You learn about distilling, get to do some tasting - and The Royal is close enough for some good food after.

Day 7: Off-hand

Day 7: Off-hand. Felt-tip on paper. I have a drinking game I like to play with people. The first part is to get nicely sozzled and draw a teacup with your non-dominant hand. I wasn't drunk for this, though. Usually it doesn't go as well.

Day 8: Off-hand, eyes shut

Day 8: Off-hand, eyes shut. Marker on paper. The second part of the game is to shut your eyes and draw with your non-dominant hand. Once in a while, things look how they were meant to.

Day 9: Jute and glue

Day 9: Jute and glue. Because the glue took so long to dry, this took 3 days to complete. It stinks of PVA. I'd like to explore this more if I could find a less smelly adhesive.

Day 10: Layered pop-up card

Day 10: Layered pop-up card. Definitely something to be said here about using good quality materials. I used glossy labels salvaged from bedsheet packaging - annoying to work with. It might be fun to try again with nicer paper.

Day 11: Chalk pastel on paper

Day 11: Chalk pastel on paper. Again, good paper will make a good experience.

Day 12: Tea from a passionfruit shell

Day 12: Tea from a passionfruit shell. Even though I'm used to seeing Chinese and Japanese teacups, I don't find them very teacuppy without the other parts of a tea set. So I got a pot of tea and our last biscuit. It was nice. There was a hint of passionfruit aroma. :)

Day 13: Body paint on skin

Day 13: Body paint on skin. Neshka from Little Magic - Art & Design let me try her face paint. This is a lovely type of art. And the very temporary nature makes it feel so delightful. I would probably feel differently if I was covered in it, but something tiny like this is OK.

Day 14: LED dot matrix display

Day 14: LED dot matrix display. I was working on a LED display for a project; a teacup emerged. The Freetronics DMD is great. It comes with the cable, you just plug it into the arduino - so easy. I expected to struggle, but it only took an hour-ish to get the software, play around, then make the picture appear. That includes the nervous procrastination preceding all my projects. A more experienced maker could do it in half the time.

Day 15: Charcoal on paper

Day 15: Charcoal on paper. Some study of light and shadow. I did the top wrong. I know. :(

Day 16: Watercolour

Day 16: Watercolour. This was fun. Watercolour, let's date each other.

Day 17: Ink fingerpainting

Day 17: Ink fingerpainting. Normally, I try to prevent ink from getting on my fingers. But the stamp pad was just there. Finger was still black the next day. B-, would fingerpaint again, but won't use ink.

Day 18: Puff pastry and mozarella

Day 18: Puff pastry and mozarella. The fails are in the background. Beauty only matters for the photo. They were all equally yummy.

Day 19: Mouth drawing

Day 19: Mouth drawing. This felt weird. I think you have to use your tongue for finer control, but I didn't want to get licky with my pen. It's hard with a fineliner, cos too much slanting lifts the tip off the page. This could be worth trying with a paintbrush.

Day 20: Foot drawing

Day 20: Foot drawing. Also feels weird, also want to try with a paintbrush.

"Show up, show up, show up," says one of the posters for #The100DayProject. After 20 days of showing up, I realise art is more about perspiration than inspiration. Ideas flow fast and free when you're in the right state of mind, but it takes discipline and perseverance to turn it into something you can behold.

There are days my discipline wavers, but I want to make it to 100. It's like exercising muscles. I want to come out the other end with the creative process feeling like the natural course of things. I am still nervous about art, but starting to feel more confident.

The bit I enjoy most is having an excuse to try new stuff, or try new ways of doing old stuff. I don't know what you call these things. Art forms? Mediums? Some of them I've wanted to try for ages, but never got around to it. This is wonderful incentive.

I'll post sets here every 20 days, but if you'd like to follow the days, check out my instagram or 100 Days of Teacup album on Facebook.

So, that's it for now. 80 days to go.

Waaaaaaah~ 80 is a such a big number. T___T

What's been going on

abandoned toy rabbit on a shopping centre bench

Whenever people ask me what's been going on, I experience a moment of utter panic. Not only do I have to remember what's happened, I have to pick a timeframe of events. Then if I don't know the asker well, I have to guess if they're a normie who doesn't want to know I'm training my cat to walk on a leash.

cat on a leash

Well, that's out of the bag now, isn't it.

whiskey being poured at Whipper Snapper Distillery

A couple weeks ago, we went to the Whipper Snapper Distillery, which just opened in East Perth. They were preparing for the official opening, so we got a "behind the behind-the-scenes" tour. I feel totally hipster about that, but would like to go again now they're properly open.

bearded distiller Jimmy teaches us about whiskey making

a cup of wheat grains

We learned about the whiskey-making process. First, it starts with making a grain mash to ferment (into beer!). The liquid part is then distilled in a giant steampunk looking machine.

large copper still for distilling alcohol

holding chamber open - smells good

After distillation, you get alcohol. "Moonshine", you'd call it when you're making it on the sly at home, except these guys are doing it legally, and really distilling the fuck out of it, more than any normal person would. From there, the spirit is aged in barrels, where is takes on flavours and colours from the wood. Once aged, it may be called "whiskey".

Whipper Snapper

Their whiskey was still in barrels, but they had some bottled moonshine on hand, which is pretty much pure alcohol, watered down to make it consumable. I may reconsider my highbrow prejudice against drinking this stuff. The feeling it leaves is exactly like the first 5 seconds of chomping on cool mint chewing gum, only it goes for ages. It just tastes fresh forever.

newfoundland puppy

Last week, I saw a Newfoundland dog for the first time ever. He was only 10 months old, and MASSIVE. I can't believe how big they get. Yarr, I want a dog. As soon as there's room in our lives, our animal empire shall grow.

Bar Pop in the Urban Orchard, Northbridge

Visited a Bar Pop in the Urban Orchard in Northbridge. For a bar with no fixed address, they have a decent range on the menu. Charging pub prices, and I'm sure the serves are smaller, but worth it to sit outside on a nice evening.

When the weather warms up here, the city fills up with cool festival and pop-up type stuff. Markets, arts events, portable fooderies - how ephemeral! Perth Cactus and Perth Arena notwithstanding, this end of the country is coming along nicely.

IAOMAS conference programme

I had the privilege of taking photos at the first IAOMAS conference in Australia. I'm barely above a white belt at photography, so I felt pressure to step up and be responsible for something official.

martial arts seminar and demonstration

personal, professional instruction

What an experience! The most awe-striking was being around female instructors. I don't get much out of "all girls" and "for women" culture, and I don't gravitate to other people based on gender, but in sport, there's only so much I can relate to male body parts because I don't have male body parts. Seeing something done by someone who's built like me makes it easier for me to learn it too.

calculating decay over time using Euler's number

Some maths happened. It was one of those moments where you remember school, thinking, "I'll never need this in real life!" Turns out if you ever want to do anything fun with computers, you do need it. Every day, stuff like this comes up, and I'm so grateful we have the internet.

Alphabotanicals: A for Arnica

Started something new this week. There's a bunch of stuff I've wanted to learn for ages, but couldn't find time, so obviously the solution is to make art as an incentive to study them all together.

This is "Alphabotanicals" - studies in type, plants, and drawing. More on this to come.

me in the blood donation chair - yuck

Finally, I gave blood today. I hate it, yuck. Needles have given me the willies since that time. I managed to give blood since then, but that was rubbish too cos they only let me have a muffin. I gave them half a litre of my life essence and all I got was a stale muffin.

Not this time, though. Fuck you, 2013 canteen nurse. I got a sausage roll today!!!! 2014 nurse knows where it's at.

I carry a small fear that I'll regress to my stressful, sedentary lifestyle of 10ish, 11ish years ago. When I go for more than a few weeks without football, when my weight stalls or drops, I fear my efforts over the last decade were for nothing.

But today, I'm weighing in at 49.5kg (clothes on) with a haemoglobin reading of 152. I am still healthy.

This evening, I am enjoying the thunderstorm and some computer games. ^___^

So, what's been going on with you?

The "Mona" glove


Ah! I am excited. One of my goals this year is to put something cute in a shop. Yesterday, I delivered the "Mona" gloves to Lucy In Disguise, and independent retro, recycled, vintage and handmade store in Subiaco. :)

The lowdown:

  • Handmade, 100% wool, natural dyed wood button, hand wash only.
  • Available in limited supply from mid-Autumn at Lucy In Disguise in Subiaco.
  • Part of my quaint goods collection at The Softery.

Funny timing - just a couple hours after I dropped off the glove, the weather turned a huge corner and we got super rain all evening. Google weather says the cool weather is finally here, at least for another week. Get your gear ready - winter is freakin coming!!