Sunday, 25 September 2016

It's Re-potting Time

It's that time of year -- early Spring -- new growth is beginning to sprout, but it's not yet time for flowers or fruit. I had 3 fuchsia cuttings that I started a few months ago when I pruned the mother shrub. They grow so strongly in my garden and it's a satisfying experience to work with them.

Nice, strong roots have developed:

I also had a bamboo cutting that was ready to pot. The Daiso pots that I've been collecting for the last few years look strange with actual dirt in them!

This strange fellow is a fuchsia cutting I took last year. I didn't think a cutting with such a thick circumference would take, but it's done very well, even if it looks a little lopsided! I needed to wire it to keep it from falling out of the pot. Even though I don't work with bonsai much anymore, I learned some valuable techniques that I can use with normal plants. For some reason I forgot to take a photo of him in his new pot, but it looks basically the same, just larger! I also pruned off a few of the dead twigs in the hopes it will grow bushier. If I were Adam of Adam Ask Why, most of it would be lopped off, but I'm not that brave!

Even the Fuchsia can have beautiful bark. Well, I hope that's how it's supposed to look!

While I was working, I noticed some new growth in the offcuts from the rose bushes that I'd pruned a few months ago. It seems some of them had their bases in the water pooling in the bottom of the wheelbarrow and had started to grow.

They wanted to live, and who am I to argue? So I put them in the jars recently vacated by the fuchsias. One was so tall I had to work my wiring techniques on it to stop it from falling over. I have no idea whether you can successfully grow roses from cuttings, but it's always fun to experiment.

Lastly, I fertilised the fruit trees. I took a tip from last week's episode of Vasili's Garden for improving fruit trees. The larger trees are doing very well, but the two we planted ourselves -- a cherry and an olive -- were not quite growing as well as I'd hoped. Vasili advised to spread mulch around the base of the trees, as the roots are still quite shallow and the grass can compete with the roots for nutrients. I also spread the fertiliser further out from the base of the trees, to encourage the roots to grow further.

I'm excited to find out the results of my work!

Sunday, 18 September 2016

101 Things in 1,001 Days: The First Year

Today marks 1 year since I started my first 101 Things in 1,001 Days list. I've been really enjoying it so far, though there are a few things I have learned and things I will do differently next time. I think I prefer this format to other goal-list-type things I have done before: like yearly goals, yearly themes or "30 Before Age 30". Of course, they are not that different, but I think the longer time period makes me feel less pressured. Also, 101 items is a good amount to cover all of my diverse hobbies and other things I'd like to do over the course of a few years.

I haven't completed many things from the list yet, but some of them are quite significant milestones that I'm proud of. I finished my conscript, which I'd been working on for nearly 20 years (blog post to come). I got a cat, and he's quite a fantastic cat! I unpacked all of my books, and made jam. I organised a party for a milestone birthday.

So far I have re-assessed the items on the list at least twice. I'm the kind of person whose interests change over time, becoming curious about new things and putting aside old ones along the way. For this reason, it's been important for me to take a flexible attitude and be willing to make changes. Otherwise I'd never complete the list! Not long after starting, I made a conscious decision to re-assess the entire list at least once every 6 months. I have a spreadsheet where I keep track of everything -- I just created a second tab to store these superceded ideas, as well as ideas for future lists.

For example, I'm no longer so interested in #50: Go Fruit Picking now that I have my own fruit trees to invest time and effort into. #93: Take my Mum to Womadelaide seems obsolete now, as I found out recently that she's no longer so enthusiastic about going. I originally put #44: Get A Massage Every Second Month as I wanted to take advantage of subsidised massages under my health insurance. It was going quite well until I found out that I can only have 3 per year, so I needed to re-think whether I was comfortable with that level of expenditure.

Aside from changing interests, there were a few things on the list that are probably no longer feasible for me to do. For example, #97: Visit the Open Gardens. The official Open Gardens scheme has closed down, though there are still private gardens to visit. #33: do NaNoWriMo was a dismal failure as November is an incredibly busy time of year for me. #53: Go Overseas -- might be more difficult to achieve now that I have a cat to care for.

⇒ Despite having the SMART Goals model hammered into me at work (Specific, Measurable, etc), I still put in several items that were vague and open to interpretation, such as #60 Have All The Basics Done In The Garden. At the time, I thought I'd go back in and list specific tasks that I wanted to do under that banner, but I haven't gotten around to doing that yet.
⇒ I wish I had put in more items that are one-offs and less that are "do such-and-such every month". While trying to develop regular habits is good, the 101 Things in 1,001 Days list is possibly not the best place for these. It's discouraging to look at the item on the list over and over, knowing you won't be able to tick it off until the very end of the 1,001 days.
⇒ Next time, I'd like to have more of a mix of big, small and medium-sized items. Having a good amount of small-sized items means that more items can be done satisfyingly sooner. One version of the Kanban workflow system from Japan classifies tasks into mouse, elephant and even blue whale sizes. It's a cute idea!

I've done several new things in the past year that aren't on the list, or things I've done before but never done them so well before. I saw a concert with music I love for the first time -- not just one, but two! I went to a fashion runway show. I changed my attitude to life and work which I think will serve me better in future. For the first time, I've started calling myself an Archivist. For the first time, I said to both friends and strangers, "I'm an artist." I've begun to realise more about my spirituality. And I've started a major new project which I'll talk about more in a future post -- when I'm ready! I think it's important to acknowledge these things which can't be conveniently written down in a list, or may have come along spontaneously but ended up being important milestones in my life.

Looking at my list and the items I've crossed off or are well into, gives me renewed motivation to continue. I'm looking forward to finishing it off and drawing up a new one, even though that's a long way off at the moment.

Friday, 16 September 2016

Madman Anime Festival

A few weeks ago, I went to the inaugural Madman Anime Festival. Melbourne has been a bit lacking in anime conventions since Manifest ended in 2013, so I was happy when I saw that MadFest was on. Madman are the biggest distributor of anime and manga, as well as other independent films, in Australia, so they are in a good position to run a festival.

The festival space was smaller than I expected, but there were plenty of things to see and buy. I didn't attend any of the activities, but there seemed to be plenty to keep fans busy all day. I've been meaning to learn more in the world of anime and manga for several years now, and the intense, vibrant atmosphere was a good way to learn what's popular and what makes fans excited.

The main point of this post is to show off my purchases, so here they are:

I'm very interested at the moment in collecting stickers for my Hobonichi art diary, so I spent a lot of time loitering in the Artist Alley area. I bought some Pokemon stickers from Elking Art, and Pusheen stickers and some prints from two girls whose card I unfortunately didn't get:

I've recently started watching Sailor Moon (the original series) for the first time, so I was excited to pick up these badges and a keyring. There are also a pair of Tuxedo Mask earrings and a Totoro pair from Curious Emporium.

I couldn't resist this Pikachu plush, and the Hello Kitty is a gift for my Mum. I named the Pikachu Pickles.

I purchased a hand-crocheted Totoro for an embarrassingly low price from a stall whose card I also didn't get. The detail on this plushie is lovely. The Domo-kun and Beemo come from a mystery box that Husband bought. I got the pick of everything in it that was pink!

Finally, some manga/manwha I purchased from the $5 stall -- Platina and Metamo Kiss. I was hesitant to buy any full-price sets as it's always a risk with something you're not familiar with. If I like them, then I'll buy the rest at a later stage.

While the festival was relatively small, I preferred it over the larger ones which can become overwhelming. I hope it will continue next year, and also hopefully that I will know more about anime by then.

Saturday, 3 September 2016

My August

August has been an incredibly busy month for me. I began my new job on the first of the month. I attended two events for the Melbourne Fashion Week Plus festival, going to a runway fashion show for the first time. There were birthdays, dinners and Pokemon catching days. I saw my two best friends more this month than I have in a long time, which was lovely. Work changed my roster and it's different every week, so I haven't been able to settle into much of a routine. Despite all this, I've been more inspired and had more of an urge to create than I have in a long time.

What I've been working on ...
I went through all of my crochet/knitting projects and re-arranged and re-prioritised them. I've been wanting to work on my monster plushies recently, and decided to start with this small yellow one. I haven't actually done much more progress on it, but at least it's easy for me to pick up when I have the time and inclination.

What I've been painting ...
One of my friends turned 40 years old, and I wanted to make her something special, so I painted her this painting. I had a 2-week deadline, and I had to work hard, but I finished it just in time. I'm quite proud of it -- it turned out exactly how I pictured it in my head. It refers to and event that happened over 15 years ago, and I hope it will convey how valuable her friendship is to me.

I was also spurred on to finish this painting which I began last year. It only needed a few finishing touches, but now I can add it to my finished works. (Of which, well, this is the first one that I haven't given away, so I have a sum total of one!)

What I've been making ...
I started a zine, my first in 7 years. It began as only a semi-serious thing, a reaction (or quiet rebellion, if you like?) to working full-time again. Then I met some amazing people at an event I went to, one of whom is also working on a zine right now, and I was incredibly inspired to commit to finishing it, as well as ideas for at least 2 more. I'm at the mock-up stage at the moment.

What I've been observing ...
Also, look at this! The fruit trees in my garden have started blossoming. This is a nectarine blossom, but flowers on the apricot and plum have also begun to burst open.

Selections from Instagram

Wednesday, 3 August 2016

My July

July has been a month of both continuity and change. As I wrote in my Winter Garden Update a few days ago, the weather has continued cold, though alternating between rainy and sunny days. Having finished the bulk of unpacking and tidying the house, I was starting to feel a little daunted at the many bits and pieces left over, until two new obsessions came along to distract me, which I'll explain below.

I started working full-time again this week. Of course that means I will have a lot less free time, but I'd still like to post in my blog 1-2 times a week and once a day on my Instagram. In reality though, it might take me a while to settle in to a routine again. So if you don't hear from me quite so frequently, that's why.

In truth, for the last couple of years I've had a second job (my only job for the last 6 months) in my friend's shop, so I'll actually be working 5-1/2 to 6 days a week again. Of course, I have mixed feelings about it -- it'll be nice to be earning money and being able to buy things again, but I'll miss all the free time I had and the things I got to do in that time. My priorities have changed in the last year, in regards to the relationship I'd like to have with work, money and free time. I'd like to touch on this in more detail one day soon.

What I've been playing ...
Two new games appeared on my radar this month, and I have to admit that both have impacted my life quite a bit in different ways. The first was Stardew Valley. This adorable farming simulator has been out on Steam since February, but Husband bought it for me on his account in the 20% off sale. I was hooked from Day 1. The 8-bit look and music are enchanting. The plethora of plants, trees, fruits, vegetables and animals are depicted right down to their accurate and visible growth rates. They're exciting to plant and watch grow. The seasons are also represented accurately with the trees and grass changing colour with each season, and snow in Winter. As you walk through the forest, you can hear the rustling of animals, and sometimes see birds, squirrels and more as you would in real life. I really do think this game would appeal to Mori Girls.

The game is not a casual one that turns into a tap-fest before long like other games I've played lately, but a full game with many facets. I've already racked up nearly 60 hours of gameplay, and haven't done even a quarter of the activities on offer. I can see myself being enchanted by it for a long time yet.

The second game I mentioned is ... you may be able to guess ... Pokémon Go. I won't write about it as I'm sure anyone who's interested has heard of it, and anyone who isn't interested is sick of hearing about it!

What I've been drawing ...
I'm please to report that I've been faithfully journalling in my Hobonichi Techo art diary nearly every night. On the couple of occasions that I did miss a night, I made up for it by doing a double page spread the next night. It's the best thing yet for motivating me to be creative every day.

What I've been dreaming of ...
I've been feeling very motivated to start turning my yard into a proper garden. Parts of it are wonderful, but other parts are quite embarrassing under-developed. Thankfully there are lots of ideas in my gardening magazines, and I've been writing down the ones that appeal to me most. I've also been spending time outside, just standing and trying to 'feel' the garden. I want to be in a space that's harmonious to be in, not one that's just had changes imposed on it. By the time the weather warms up and it's time for planting, I'll hopefully have a good idea of what I want to do.

Selections from Instagram

Friday, 29 July 2016

Mid-Winter Garden Update

This Winter seems colder than it has been in the last few years, and with more rain and storms. I've noticed many of the plants in the garden have grown more this year, probably because of the rain. And yet there's still been a fair share of sunny winter days.

Where to begin?
It seems I didn't kill the roses when I pruned them last month. They lurked for a while, but the buds are finally starting to grow into tiny scarlet leaves:

The daisies are still flowering and show no sign of letting up. It seems like they're blooming for even longer this year than last year.

These plants next to the driveway are doing very well, too. They've finally recovered completely after I ran over them with the car ahem, something obstructed their growth for a while.

The orange tree is merrily growing Winter oranges. Almost all of them are ripe now; Husband and I have been juicing them for drinks.

Speaking of fruit, the stone fruits all have tiny brown buds waiting for warmer weather to burst into life. I like to linger among them, imagining the beautiful fruits that will appear in a few months.

The Rosemary has grown to nearly twice its size in the last year. Unfortunately Husband doesn't really like rosemary in cooking, but I read yesterday that the flowers can be eaten. They have the same flavour as the leaves, just a little milder. It will definitely be something to try -- how beautiful would the lavender-coloured blooms look garnishing a roast? I might try drying the leaves and powdering them as well.

Also in the backyard, I've heavily pruned the fuchsia. It's been looking very straggly in the last year, and after waiting what seemed like an inordinate amount of time for the shrub to stop flowering, I was finally able to prune it. I do hope it does well, as I recently found out that the berries are edible and can be made into jam. I'd love to try that in future.

The Red Hot Poker has put on a stunning show, but the stems are finally dying down. So many times I've thought of digging them out, as Husband and I want to put in a veggie patch in this area. But at the same time: if something is growing so well, it's difficult to reason.

The fernery is my joy as it's always been. The little fern survived last Summer better than previously, although it started to lean so I had to prop it up with a stake.

Finally, the Schlumbergera Winter Cactus has burst forth with these incredible neon pink flowers. I can put up with it looking a little yellow in Summer when it boosts my Winter with this reward.

I'm starting to develop some concrete plans for my garden as a whole. It will be a lot of work to set up initially (not to mention the financials), but I really want to get it to a point where I can enjoy spending time outside at all times of year. I'll write more about that in a future post.

Thursday, 21 July 2016

Daiso Haul: Stickers, etc.

I performed some high-level adulting earlier in the week, and as a treat for myself I went to Daiso afterwards. I used to go at least once a fortnight when I worked in the city, but I haven't been for about 6 months. It felt like a special experience again. Oh, and sorry for the bad lighting -- it was night-time by the time I got home, and I wanted to start using the stickers straight away.

I mainly went for the stickers to use in my Hobonichi diary, but also came away with some hair accessories, and gifts for all the family. I bought a hotdog decorator kit for Husband, and a cat-sized blanket for Sharick.

Cute, mori-style hairclips. I also re-stocked on these tiny hair ties. I find them indispensible, but they don't last very long.

My sticker and washi tapes haul:

These stickers are particularly beautiful. They have a soft, fabric-y feel to them.

If you're playing Pokémon Go, stay safe!