Hello, my name is Sandy.

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.

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!!

Crocheted cowl with giant chocolate button

crocheted cowl with giant button

This is a quick and easy crochet neck thing, if you're looking to make something cute for winter - Lemon Balm Button Cowl by Fiber Flux.

my button looks like a chocolate!

My giant chocolate looking button was too big to go through the stitches, so I modified it using the Dummies guide to crocheting a buttonhole.

shell stitch edging, also called a scallop edge

This edging was made using a shell stitch (the pattern refers to it as a scalloped edge) for a bit of extra cuteness.

Somehow even though this finished piece was smaller than in the pattern, I ended up using more yarn than estimated. Wat.

I'm looking forward to cooler weather. You know, it was 39 last Wednesday, then 24 on Friday, and now we expect to go back up to 38 next Wednesday. Can someone please tell the government their HAARP needs a reboot? :) I know I moaned about the cold when we were in Japan, but it's different now. I'm at home with two fuzzy, purring heat bags, and have plenty of HEATTECH from UNIQLO.


Learning plants at Bunnings

me in shirt and apron

Hours completed: 9 of 70

I had my first day of work experience this week and it was great. Nothing burnt down, exploded, got struck by lightning or washed away. And everyone is so nice. I don't know why I was so nervous.

cute beetroot seedlings

da erbs

There's a lot to be done in a Bunnings nursery. I spent the whole day watering, arranging and pruning plants. I now understand why the plants I buy from Bunnings don't live as long as I'd like - the garden staff take good care of their stock. Ample water in the morning, then again in the afternoon if it's hot. I can't say my garden gets that much moisture, and I've been lazy in recent days because it's hot, I'm tired, and just want to eat and play games when I get home. Time to buy some proper watering equipment, I think.

tidying up the hedges

I got to follow the Horticulturalist around for the afternoon, assisting her with plant things, passing her pots for display.

closeup of chilli plants

Listening to her answer random customer questions was a real experience - she'd pluck all this knowledge from seemingly nowhere. Amazing. I love seeing people in their element, doing their thing. It's very inspiring and makes me want to get better at stuff.

I learned a lot just listening - sharing at the end of this post. It blows my mind that she's been doing plants for as long as I've been doing web - and yet I feel nowhere near as confident as she is when she talks.

Day 2 is just half a week away. I'm excited to learn more.

Stuff I learned about plants - Day 1

closeup of white iceberg rose plant

How to deadhead roses

This is where you lop the head off the finished flower to encourage the plant to bud more (source). Prune just above the leaf nodes that are likely to grow back facing the direction you want - usually outwards, as flowers growing inward may look crowded and clumsy, and affect the airflow between the foliage, leaving the plant susceptible to fungus and disease.

Avoid karri & peat mulch

Because the moisture stays in the mulch rather than in the ground (a concurring source). Best to use composted clippings or straw.

Harvest lemongrass while the leaves are young

Because they taste better. As the leaves get older, they become woody. This isn't a bad thing for the plant, you just may as well eat leaves when they're tasty if you're going to eat them.

Use Seasol when watering to help plants establish roots

Seasol is a seaweed-based growth stimulant that, when added to newly installed plants, helps the roots to grow and establish in the garden. I've noticed permaculture types seem to prefer willow bark, maybe because you can DIY at home?

Chilli con carne and other things

bright red chillies on the bush

These hot beauties are cayenne chilli peppers from a two year old bush in our garden. I had my doubts, as the last couple of harvests haven't been spicy at all.

my two year old, frequently pruned chilli plant

Anyway, I was wrong. They had some kick, presumably because we've had a very warm summer - letting the plant dehydrate results in more concentrated flavour chemicals in the fruit. I didn't realise until today that cayenne is of decent hotness on the Scoville scale, at least according to the comic sans text on this website.

chilli con carne

We planned to throw the lot into a slow-cooked chilli con carne, but ended up only using four. They lost some heat, but still contributed to the dish. See here this photo with a blob of full fat sour cream. Mm~

Yesterday was full of tasty things. We had lunch at The Red Chair Café in Subiaco. Below is my Vietnamese spring roll noodles.

Vietnamese spring roll noodles

Nudie soft drink

I'm not usually keen on soft drinks, but this 'Nudie & Soda' was pretty good. It must be new, cos I'm not seeing it on their site. Best thing: it's NOT stupidly sweet. The ingredients say it's carbonated juices plus a little cane sugar - yeah, there's still sugar, but it was listed way, way late, which is a welcome change from seeing sweetener as the first or second item.

For an afternoon snack, I used up leftover lamb stock from a roast we made last Sunday - I say 'lamb stock', but it's just leftover liquid in the slow cooker, about 600ml worth. I was worried because the stock sat in the fridge all week, but I found there was a nice half-centimetre layer of solid lard on top - presumably that helps keep the air out, and the liquid fresh.

A few leftover veggies, handful of rice and some tomato paste (and one garden chilli) made a freakishly yummy soup. No stock powder, no extra salt - aaah, this healthy waste-less kitchen thing is starting to make some sense. :)

Dora, airing her harbl

My Fortnight of No Plans has started out well. Got some homework done, watched a lot of telly, and I've been learning how Ghost templates work. I'm mucking around with code again and it feels neat. I think I've missed it. Not as a job, though. Nineteen years ago, I took up dev and design for fun and looking back now, I think working in the industry made me grow to hate it. I never touch it during office hours these days, and feel really happy playing with it again.

Friends tell me it was a bad work environment that let me down, not the work itself. I'm willing to keep an open mind. I'd still like to be less deskbound later in my career.

It's now almost 4pm on a Sunday. I hope you're having a nice weekend too. I'm leaving now to go find something to eat.

Slow time

Receding heatwave for Perth

For a city that's not getting a heatwave after all, it's pretty bloody warm here. But no matter, the day still ended with a warm, tasty drink.

Blendy stick matcha drink

I got a box of Blendy stick matcha au lait while we were in Japan. They've not been so popular around the office, so I've taken it upon myself to finish what's left. It's not bad. Definitely not the taste I expected for the texture, or vice versa. It appears to be a blend of matcha and milk powder, to which you add hot water and get a slightly milky liquid with a creamy mouthfeel and green tea flavour. With a teaspoon and a half of honey, it tastes all right.

Today is the start of my Fortnight of No Plans. After deciding to be less busy, my calendar filled up and now I feel unwell. So this is a new habit to make time for rest.

tea for tú

I did catch up with some friends last night. Arrived early and accidentally caught a piece of a PIAF performance called You Once Said Yes, at tea for tú. They welcomed eavesdroppers. It sounded quite moving, confronting.

tea for tú seating

We drank and snacked at Mechanics. No, there are no photos of our snacks. Yes, I know the pictures make it look like I have no friends and sat by myself in an empty cafe.

my junk

This evening, I ate dinner, did some homework, fixed a broken hand fan, and paid a bill. ^___^ Ahhhh~ slow time is mine once more... precious...