Growing Tea Plants

September 6th, 2013

I drink a fair amount of tea, as you probably know if you’ve been hanging around my blog long. Recently I read this article about pesticides and tea, which kind of freaked me out. I decided the only solution was to start growing my own tea. Then it wouldn’t have any pesticides on it—maybe just a little dog pee. I found Camellia Forest, an online nursery that sells tea plants (Camellia sinensis), and ordered three. Along with three healthy little plants my package contained detailed care instructions and directions for preparing green, black, and oolong teas. I’m so impressed with this nursery! My only complaint is that the instructions were typed up in Papyrus, but I can’t expect everyone to be a font snob, right? I definitely recommend ordering from there if you want to try growing tea. Now is the time to plant!

Hopefully next year I’ll get to harvest my own tea leaves and write up a post about preparing them. It’s a bit more complicated than I thought it would be, but I’m excited to try making my own fancy schmancy tea!

growing tea plants

growing tea plants

growing tea plants

Psst! New products are coming to the shop early next week! Make sure you have signed up for my newsletter in the sidebar so you don’t miss any special offers I might be sending out only to subscribers—wink wink!

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My Favorite Drawing Tools

September 4th, 2013

These are my favorite drawing tools! What are yours?

favorite drawing tools

Pilot Precise V5 pens: I’m often asked what kind of pens I like to use, so now you know! I remember when I first laid eyes on a Pilot Precise pen. I was 11 years old sitting in my 6th grade math class. The girl next to me pulled one from her Hello Kitty pencil box, started writing, and I was smitten. I doodled and took notes with V5 pens from then on, but I didn’t try full blown pen and ink illustration until high school. When I did it came naturally to me, and my love of V5 pens grew. I’ve used other pens, but I always come back to the V5s.

favorite drawing tools

favorite drawing tools

Spiral Bound Sketchbook: Sketchbooks with fancy hand stitched bindings are lovely, but they’re just not practical for me. If a sketchbook doesn’t have a spiral binding I won’t use it. Spiral bound sketchbooks always lie flat and that makes scanning (and sketching while curled up on the couch with two dogs on your lap) so much easier. I also love that I can cleanly rip pages out of my sketchbook if I draw something so bad that it just has to be trashed. I don’t even have a favorite sketchbook brand, just give me that spiral binding!

favorite drawing tools

A Morale Boosting Pencil Pouch: A while back I splurged on a beautifully rugged leather pencil pouch from infusion, and I have no regrets. My pencil pouch is so awesome that it makes me feel awesome when I unzip it and begin sketching. But wait, there’s more! No longer do I waste time searching for lost pens and pencils in the couch cushions, and with my drawing instruments neatly zipped inside my pouch I can always keep them within arm’s reach. When everything I need to start sketching is easily accessible, I end up drawing more often and that’s always a good thing.

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In the Garden

August 29th, 2013

I had to snap a few photos in my garden today, because the knockout roses I planted in June are going bonkers. I planted three pink and three red rose bushes in a row interspersed with catmint. Four bushes I planted in straight compost and two I planted in topsoil. The roses planted in compost are covered in blooms and have doubled in size since June. The roses in the plain topsoil only have one or two blossoms and have hardly grown at all. They’ve all received the same amount of sunlight and water. I can’t believe the soil makes that much difference! Hopefully in a year or two I’ll have learned enough about gardening to write a post full of gardening tips. That’s my goal anyway!

knock out roses and catmint

pink and red knock out roses

catmint

By the way, remember the single tomato I was so excited about eating? I’ve been counting how many tomatoes I’ve plucked from my  ”sweet 100″ tomato plant since then, and I’ve almost hit 20o tomatoes—from one plant! Honestly I’m getting a little tired of eating cherry tomatoes at this point!

sweet 100 tomato plant

I’ve had good luck with lush ferns and coleus this year too.

coleus and ferns garden path

Has anyone ever used a macro extension tube like this or this? I’m dying to take some extreme closeups of my plants, and my 50mm isn’t cutting it. I’d love some recommendations or advice!

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On a Roll

August 27th, 2013

I’m cranking out new designs like a maniac! Don’t you love it when you’re on a roll? Lately it seems like all my ideas are coming together just like I want them to. I try to savor these creative rushes, because they don’t come often enough. I could barely tear myself away from my sketchbook long enough to write this post. I’ll be adding a bunch of new goods to the shop in a few weeks!

messy desk

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Mabel Update

August 22nd, 2013

I want to follow up on my June post about Mabel. Thanks to all of you who have been asking about her! It has been two months and nine days since Mabel was attacked, and she is doing so well. On good days we can almost forget the whole thing ever happened, but some days her wounds still bother her. The back half of her body is covered in scars that are slowly disappearing as her fur grows over them. I thought the scars might upset me every time I saw them, but instead they’ve become a reminder that God answered my prayers.

Mabel isn’t as spry as she was. She can’t jump or stand on her hind legs anymore, and she walks with a slight limp. She is as sweet and cuddly as ever and still gets wiggly and excited about all the same things—her leash, squirrels, her favorite toy, treats, visitors, and going for car rides and walks. The usual dog stuff. We took her for a hike last weekend, but she was quickly exhausted and we ended up carrying her a lot. I’m hoping that she will regain more of her mobility with time. After all, two months of healing isn’t very much when you’re coming back from the brink of death!

dog birthday hat

Mabel’s 5th birthday was yesterday, and we delivered cupcakes to the veterinary hospital with her in tow. We wanted to thank everyone at the hospital for the love and care they gave Mabel as they pieced her back together. It was the perfect way to celebrate. I also made a wonky birthday hat for Mabel and put together a little video so you can see how well she is doing. Unfortunately she mostly refused to wear the hat. She’s just too dignified I guess!

The music in this video is an excerpt from Lullatone’s song “the kind of song you make up in your head when you are bored” (best song title ever). I’ve told you before how much I love Lullatone. They recently released a new album, Summer Songs, that perfectly captures the essence of summer. “Splitting a Banana Split” is my favorite. Oh, and you have to see the time-lapse ice cream video that goes along with it!

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