Reflections on growing veggies + a few tips

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May 2019.
The jungle consisting of three kinds of chillies, two kinds of peppers, cucumbers and two kinds of tomatoes.

I get A LOT of questions about this topic (JK, but we've all heard that one before amiright? #everyfishyblogger) about growing your own food, and while I WOULD consider myself an expert*, I don’t want to claim so because of the dangerous farming lobby that will come after me if I tell you guys how to do it yourselves instead of buying their fake veggies.

So, speaking from a purely leisurely perspective, I will now tell you all my secrets... Yeah, so I have no secrets, this will just be a rambly post about the first three months of this growing season with a few tips at the end, okay?

I used to consider myself a ”combat cultivator” because my favourite form of growing stuff was to throw out seeds onto a selected surface and just kind of wait and see. A few years down the line I have to retract that epithet, because I have been known to grow plants thousands of miles north of their natural habitat, aka here in Fimbulwinter’s God-forsaken lands and that calls for some extra steps to the regular plant maintenance.

And by extra maintenance I mean running in and out with the plants because winter returns in late April, sowing stuff at the right time (the dead of winter), not over-watering anything, having artificial lights on (we didn’t have any this year, you can tell by my crooked chili plants) because the lighting in Sweden in February is, let’s say… ”substandard”.

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You also have to replant everything in bigger and bigger pots but hell if you put a small plant in a too big pot directly, shit will hit the fan! And also, having them out on the glazed patio, ie the only thing keeping them alive in this climate, requires a whole lot of checking temperatures because it gets piping hot in there if the sun shines all day, and I have to slide windows open to let in air when it gets too hot, and remember to close the gaps before it gets cold at night, and also have a heat fan on to keep them alive during nights and keep track of watering the plants one or several times a day, depending on the weather.

Oh, and also propping the plants up with sticks and supports so they don’t fall over and murder themselves by ripping out at the root and falling to the floor when I’m not there (still crying over that jalapeno plant), tying up the climbing cucumbers and the bushy tomato plants so they don’t ya know, break off and die, and having plant sex (with a brush) with the flowers in order to pollinate them just in case any pollinators haven’t been visiting lately. Later this season, I will have to fight pests and weeds off of the plants that are to grow outside. And then there’s the harvesting at the right time, not letting frost get to the plants, covering stuff to shelter them from the sun (ironic...), preserving the yield before it goes off, seeing to using the right kind of fertilizer for every type of plant (and not too much nor too little!), and just generally not killing my plants with stupidity.

But other than that, it’s not that hard!

*ahem*

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I'm not even exaggerating, I wrote all that meaning it and it looks terrible. Why on earth would anyone choose to do this when it's cheap and easy to just buy veggies at the grocery store? I don’t have a good explanation, but like… it gives me meaning! I love the feeling of growing plants from seeds, tending to them and watch them get scarily big without much help, and then eating all the fruits they produce. My mom always waited for me to appreciate gardens, and lastly, I did. But not the kind she loved, she was heavily into roses and flowers and beauty. I love that too, but roses are too much work for me. Growing edibles on the other hand, has gripped me. When we first got those little tomato plants by my ex-mother in law in 2013, I had no idea how much I would enjoy growing my own veggies.

And here I am now, six years later with, honestly, overwhelming plans on a garden and veggie beds and we got literally 15 tonnes of soil delivered yesterday to make all that happen. It's gonna be so much work, and I can't wait!

Not all forms of growing plants are for everyone, you just gotta find your niche. Do you want to grow orchids and scheme against other orchid growers like in Midsomer Murders? Do you want to grow hydroponic herbs all year long? Do you want to grow every sort of pumpkin there is and decorate all of them for Halloween? Do you just want that one kaffir lime plant in your kitchen window because you use so much of it in your cooking? You do you! Try it out and see where your favour falls.

Lastly, not to make this a completely useless post, I DO have a few tips for anyone out there thinking about growing a few veggies or whatever.

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It can get more expensive than you thought at first

Maybe you need seeds and pots and saucers and watering jugs and soil and fertilizer and sticks and string and shading cloth, maybe you don’t. Check around and see what your resources are, if you have things at home to use already or if you need to buy stuff. Just make up a plan, however simple, and look at the plant’s future needs (a plant that gets a meter high needs a big pot in the end, etc) and your own resources. Remember, there’s no end to how much money and time and effort you can put into a garden if you choose to, so you have to set up the boundaries. And as I'm about to mention, you don’t want to get carried away after not being able to kill off the extra 56 tomato plants that now need a lot more soil and a lot bigger pots, right?

Be prepared to care a lot more than you expected to

This one ties into the next point as well. Standing there with your partner, having planted the seeds together, cheering on the little seedlings that are just poking up through the dark soil. When you go around every day updating yourself on progress and tending to the little pots, is when it gets sort of real, ya know. It’s not just a white little seed in a pot, it’s a living thing! A living thing that will need attention, support and will give you wonderful produce to enjoy in the end.

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Don’t be sentimental and/or don’t plant safety seeds

If you’re sentimental, DON’T sow ”safety seeds”, ie many more than you want just to be safe in case a bunch of them doesn’t take on. You’ll just end up with 114 chili plants, unable to kill any of them when they all turn into living things that demand maintenance, bigger pots, and a space to live. Also, you can’t give any of them away because all those peeps who cheered you on when talking about growing your own veggies just want to EAT homegrown veggies, not grow them themselves like common hippies, duh!

So you’ll just end up having to build an entire greenhouse for the plants to live in and THAT certainly wasn’t a part of your budget for this year, dangit! Don’t be sentimental with too many plants, those who are not up to par, those who do not bear fruit, etc. If it makes you feel better, thank the plant for its participation in your life and send it off to the distant gardens of eternity. I’m sure you’ll see each other there, no hurt feelings, etc.

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Don’t plan to sow too many seeds, to begin with

In the dark of January when you start craving life again, it’s easy to think that yeah sure I can handle five of each type of veggie, but reality hits when you suddenly have to replant 50 mini pots a few weeks later, without having even touched the next round of seeds to be planted. I don’t really have room for my plants, but I’m keeping them anyways, OKAY. They’re sort of bundled together, maybe causing them to miss out on sunlight and that may lower the yield... And... I’ve gotten rid of five already, and I still can’t fit the ones left. Note to self, read this list in seven months. I mean, I knew that the tomato shrubs would get a little unwieldy, but now… they hit the ceiling and just fold over and continue growing horizontally in order to fit. Which brings me to...

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Yeah so, getting smaller tomato plants next year…

Be sure to check the plant’s prerequisites before you buy the seeds

Look at the information on the back of the seed packets. Are they gonna be massive and you can’t fit them? Do they crave sunlight and you dwell in the shadows? Are they unable to live outdoors in your climate and you don’t have anywhere inside to keep them? How long does it take for the plant to grow fruits, is there enough time before winter comes? Check the facts first, so you don’t have to practice not being sentimental as much.

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We tried growing “apple cucumbers” this year, a culture classic apparently. But the plants were huge, slow, unwieldy, took up too much room and the fruit tasted like a bitter version of a cucumber. In the time it took for us to harvest four regular cucumbers, we got two small apple cucumbers. It wasn’t for us, so we parted ways, aka I threw them out.
*practicing not being sentimental*


Sunk cost fallacy

Remember, just because you’ve spent hours on sowing, planting, replanting, tending, watering, moving everything in and out of the house because of the cold, tying up, supporting, pollinating and fertilizing, doesn’t mean you have to keep the plants if they give you no yield or if the produce tastes weird. Sometimes, they're just not the right fit for you, and that's okay!

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Thank you for getting all the way here through these ramblings! I’m gonna go stare at a huge pile of dirt now.


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* The thesaurus says that an expert is a person that is very knowledgable or particularly skillful within a certain topic, and with a sprinkle of the classic truthiness, I can be considered as such. Ahem.

10 things you should know when you’re starting a blog

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Yes, this is a reiteration of an old post that is now hidden within the depths of one of my stealthy, hidden old blogs because I have the decency to take down my deserted blogs instead of just leaving them to die alone out there in the freezing cold that is the internet and its over-saturated social media. Not to throw shade or anything, it’s just severely e-depressing to come happily skipping onto a blog and realize it’s been abandoned since 2014 without as much as a ”Goodbye”.

But, I’m not gonna whine too much about that now, seeing as HERE AND HERE I’m already sporting the aura of an old lady, clutching the good old days of blogging near my left south-wandering boob while screaming at modern clickbait sites to get the F off my lawn, and by lawn I mean my internets.

  

1. Don’t post blurry images

I’m not gonna lie. I’ve entered so many wonderfully designed blogs, with all the right recipes for catching readers, bold headlines, clickbaity titles, read more-links and easily melted content… and then encountered the visual blurry 2004-pigfest-style photos trying to match up with the glossy finish of the site, making me skedaddle right out of there. Out of focus makeup flat-lays, images where everything is a little blurry causing me to doubt my hawkish eyes for a second or images taken too far from the object they’re trying to portrait. Wrong colour temperature also makes it really hard to see if that lipstick is cool or warm, ya know?

I mean, I wrote the original post five years ago, and while the glossy finished blogs has increased dramatically since then, the discrepancy between imagery and magazine layouts has only become more jarring.

 All in all: Manual focus and white balance settings, use them!


* And yes, I’m sporting a blurry pic of myself on the blog. But that’s alright, right? Hurr hurr. It’s worth it because it’s at least taken by someone else than myself and those are far and few between!

 

2. It’s normal to doubt yourself like every 90 days

It’s a common occurrence. Fresh faced and inspired, you start a blog. It’s fun, you’ve thought about it for a while and you’re crunching out content for a couple of months because… well it’s fun! Then that crampy Tuesday comes, maybe it’s February and the sun hasn’t showed itself in three months, maybe you’re feeling uninspired, sick of influencers, sick of Instagram highlighters and the lonely feeling when no one comments on your carefully thought out posts.

Just... take it easy. Breathe a little. Cut the crap out of your feeds and enjoy only quality stuff on the blessing and curse we call the internet. Go out into the world and enjoy your real life friends, so you can return to your blog a little later and continue posting content to which no one comments. It’s a harsh environment for many of us, but if you like it, you like it. Do it. Keep at it. Because it’s mainly for you, right? That nail polish you want to post already has five hundred swatches on other blogs, so what? Add your flair and post it anyways!

And a little side note: Even I, with my teensy meensy little space on the huge internet, have made real life friends from my little side gig. Worth every second of it.


 3. Be careful choosing Wordpress.com if you’re a total e-novice

Only choose Wordpress as your blog host if you’re ready to swear, scream and break your entire blog when you’re having a go at CSS (backup that code before editing, fellow blogger. Every single time. It’s not worth taking that risk.) and is ready to accept that your plugins will stop working without explanation or updates, oh, and the solutions found on google won’t help you out at all. Shit’s not as easy as people make it out to be. Blogger is far easier, and while I now reside on Squarespace, I can say that Squarespace isn’t for everyone. I’m happy with them though!

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In case you didn’t believe me when I said that mysterious thing about real life friends.


4. Proof-read your own content

In an effort to catch all those stupid mistakes your flanges make on the keyboard, and remove the visible brain farts and post-editing double wordings or even missing words (I will have some in this post just because I’m bringing it up, I just know it), draft your post and then return to it the day after before posting it for the world to see. Proof read that shit. Bloglovin’ snatches your content and does not update it later, and knowing that everyone who reads your posts through Bloglovin’ in the future will stare at that time you wrote ”fucket” instead of ”bucket”, well, it’s worth double checking.

  

 5. If you’re pretty you get more readers

Yeah.

 

6. It’s a bit like high school sometimes

You will e-hang around groups of cool bloggers that start clubs with each other, and you won’t get to join. Instead, you get to stand on the other side of the hedge, just seeing and hearing how much fun they’re having while you clear your side from weeds and old tags that you should have formulated better when you started your blog journey, swearing you’re left out in the cold because your Bloglovin’ feed still shows that post title as ”Whats you’re best Christmas memory?”

  

7. You will be less fun than you wished you were

You will constantly judge your own morals and sense of humour, grading everything you want to throw out there on a scale from ”no one could possibly be offended by this but it’s also boring” to ”Shit… ahh well fuck it, it’s worth it!”. From my experience, one most often ends up on the boring side just to play it really safe, and then your blog get… bland and suffers a lack of personality. Like wheat crackers without salt or cheese, and you’re not even getting any desert wine with your tragic platter!

 

8. What goes on the internet, stays on the internet

Ahh, that old caveat. All those stories that you want to tell your audience and especially those two faithful readers that always seem to come back and read everything you post, blurry images and all, but you can’t; because what goes on the internet, stays on the internet. And who knows what’s in store for the future? I’m pretty sure I’m not going to be a politician, but am I ready for people at, say, that new job that I’m starting, to already know about that one time I had a medieval style mishap with a menstrual cup in a public restroom ten years ago and that I were blindingly drunk that random Friday night? Am I? I don’t know.

  

9. If your blog is boring, SEO or links can’t help you

You need to get that ship sailing into interesting, frightful territory so your potential readers don’t clickity-click on that X as soon as they lay their eyes on your detailed description of what your breakfast consisted of and that you took a walk in an unnamed location and it was kind of nice but ya know, not really THAT nice. If your space is boring, you can roam around on the internet and link, comment, share and engage all you want, but it won’t make people stay on your site. You’re gonna die alone on the internet, clutching your worn-out laptop with its broken modem (yeah, I said it!) anyways.

 

10. You’re gonna learn that some people are all talk and no action

Like me. I’ve had blogs since 2005, and I have never had more than 100-ish daily visitors. I know, I know, ”but your blog is a little glossy and have sharp pictures and you spell correctly (most of the time) just like you’ve recommended in this post and you’re funny as shit too! Haven’t you always done that?”

Yes, yes I have. But the type of content I put out isn’t for everyone (it’s too smart I guess*). It’s just how it is, and I have no plans of changing that really. Because, like item nr 2 says, I’m keeping at it because I like it. It’s mostly for me nowadays and for my faithful 10-ish or so long time readers; it would be hard to claim anything else when I’ve had nine comments on my blog the last 12 months.

So I have learnt more stuff, comment down below if you’re interes… JK I know that doesn’t work. Still love this whole blogging thing though, fourteen years later!



* I’m kidding of course. I couldn’t be an influencer even if I tried.

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Visiting Norwegian Viking ships

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It was a Wednesday morning at the beginning of May, in God's year 2019. Excitement, though a little dampened by tiredness, was in the air as I scrambled to get my shit together, packing, cleaning the kitchen, watering plants and doing all that jazz that you have to see to before going away. At least this time it felt less crucial because we had a housesitter (the jungle demands attention!) meaning we didn't need to worry about forgetting to take out the trash and having to come home to the lovely smell of regret and old rotting vegetables accompanied by a cheerful fleet of fruit flies.

Because I'm a homebody, I felt the usual tinge of not wanting to go abroad for three days, just like I do every time I'm going away. Living the high life, heyo! I know it's silly, especially this time. We weren't just going away, we were going to a very special destination - my first time to visit Oslo, Norway.

And do you know what Oslo has? Viking effing ships!

For years, first as a wee archaeology student that decided that the actual work of an archaeologist isn't really for me (luckily enough perhaps, having to quit that profession some years later because of chronic pain would have killed me) and now as a hobby-old-things-lover, my longest running point on my bucket list has been to see the ships in person.

After driving for seven hours, we arrived in Oslo. We walked and looked around for a few hours before passing out in our hotel room at an unreasonably early hour. We had better be prepared for the coming day of me crying in public because the Oseberg and Gokstad ships, and their accompanying finds, are so so beautiful.

I'll collect my impressions about the trip itself in another post because this one is dedicated to the wonders of Viking age carpentry and archaeological finds. I'm no historian, so I'll leave a couple of links at the end if you want to do some more reading about the wonderful ships and the Viking age burial customs. What I can do though, is post a bunch of pictures to highlight the wonder that is Vikingskipshuset (not to be confused with the Viking Ship Museum, yeah, because Denmark has Viking ships too).

The two more well-preserved ships were made and buried in the 9th century AD, and was unearthed again around the turn of the century 1800-1900. Made of oak and pine, they're lovingly crafted and decorated along with the other finds in the ship burials, ranging from the simple and functional, to the exquisitely elaborate. On the Oseberg ship, two women were buried, and on the Gokstad ship, a man was laid down for his final rest and journey into the afterlife. Joining the individuals were everything they could need on the other side. Fine fabrics, furniture, sleds, carts, horses, food, weapons, religious artfacts, and decorations.

A third ship is presented under the white arches, the Tune ship. This was made, used and buried a little later, during the 10th century AD. Because the material in it's huge burial mound, spanning 80 meters in diameter, had been transported away, it was in worse condition than the other two. It was also excavated early on before the techniques of preservation had been fully understood, and it took a toll on the remains that were either destroyed or damaged. A man was buried in the ship, together with weapons and three horses. The ship itself had been in use for ten or so years when it was buried, a light vehicle for swift travels. This ship was laid in darkness when we visited and made out the background for a movie screening. All ships were covered with burial mounds, and have been plundered of their most valuable possessions during antiquity.

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The Gokstad ship with its impressive profile.

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The Oseberg ship.

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Too badly damaged or lost parts have been replaced with replicas, coming together with the original decorations to make up this impressive piece of artistic engineering.

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Elaborate decorations from bow to stern.

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The processional cart that was found on the Oseberg ship. It’s not possible to steer, hinting at a religious or ceremonial function.

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Detail from the cart.

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The gripping beasts, so characteristic for the style that it’s named after the location where the ship was found; the Oseberg style.

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A decoration in the shape of an animal, with it’s ship in the background.

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The “Buddah bucket”

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Along with cooking utensils and pots came a huge trough filled with a wheat based dough, ready for making food in the afterlife.

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If you’ve ever thought about going to see the ships and its friends, I highly recommend it! Especially along with it’s neighbour, the Norwegian Folk Museum. I’ll tell you about that one soon!

Gokstadsskeppet - Wikipedia Swe
The Gokstad Ship - Wikipedia Eng
Osebergsskeppet - Wikipedia Swe
The Oseberg Ship - Wikipedia Eng
Tuneskeppet - Wikipedia Swe
The Tune Ship - Wikipedia Eng
Vikingskipshuset

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A DIY wooden chandelier

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I was gonna say “”It’s been a long time coming” but it really hasn’t. Actually, I think I’ve set some kind of personal record, because apart from hanging a few pictures, the dining room is done and we’ve only lived here for five months!

In serious people’s schedules that actually plan and check off everything when redoing at home, I’m sure it’s ages. But for a procrastinator that wants to do stuff, even the fun stuff, only when I feel like it, it’s pretty dang hasty.

The almost-last hurdle was the lighting arrangement over the dining table. Around the time we moved in, I was tumbling through Pinterest and everywhere I could see these wonderful hanging… things, that one can decorate after taste or season, most often made by artists of course. But, since I sometimes have no boundaries, I wanted one for myself.

A week later, in the house, I found a piece of wood that exactly matched what I’d envisioned for my own over-table while clearing out. It was fate! (let’s keep the illusion going, right). So, I had the piece of wood. And of course, chains to hang it. But I wanted lighting too, and how do you get lighting up above a table? The electrical cords have to be seriously long or I’d have to fasten a extension cord in the ceiling. I wanted to be able to light it and shut it off easily, because everyday life should be as easy as possible.

So I put things off, not knowing how I should go about the whole thing. There was so much other things to do that I knew how to do, so I did all that instead.

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Then came the electrician. When walking around pointing to things we wanted done and reviewing our options, I said I wanted a regular wall socket in the ceiling, because that was the obvious solution to my problems! Could that be done? Yeah sure, he said, we’ll find a solution for it. And a few weeks into the whole mess, we did.

After getting the socket installed, I excitedly drilled four holes into the wooden board and threaded the chains through them, and installed two hooks in the ceiling. I raided another room for the string of lights, and up it all went!

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It’s not picture perfect but who cares!

Now. Do you know what happens if you hang one piece of wood in four chains and the chains pull differently? Things get real crooked, real fast. Things got so crooked I thought I’d have to take everything down, spackle the holes in the ceiling and just tell my household I’d changed my mind to cover up the failure. But I endured, and after a grueling ten minutes of walking round and round and tweaking each side a litte at a time, things were aligned.

Right now it’s a little scarce with the decorations, but I have plans for the coming season changes. Fun!

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The new socket is connected to the ceiling light socket so I can light both with the the wall flip switch. I’ve disconnected my old beloved inherited hand blown glass lamp because I don’t like the kind of ambiance ceiling lights make. It’s just gonna hang there like a jewel, in it’s 100 year old prettiness.

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Let's talk blogs

So I MAY be jacked up on cold brew with condensed milk (Unngh) but bear with me here.

 I have had blogs in one form or another since 2005, and I have enjoyed reading other people’s blogs for as long. Sometimes people speak of the great blog death, and having been in the game during the years between ´06 and´12, a part of me agrees. Because dang, I had so much fun! Writing myself (resulting in real life friends, that win?!) and reading so many great ones. Men and women told stories of their lives, embroidered tales with twists and turns that kept me on the edge of my seat for a week waiting for the next chapter. There was a true sense of getting to know someone, through their words and speech, without having any idea of who they were IRL. People with messages they wanted to throw out into the world and see who responds. Communities made. Link love and silly awards. Less polished surfaces and more creative joy.

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 This morning I tried finding a bunch of my old favourites again that I know have thrown in the towel, but most of them have gone into the obscurity of the internet. The few I could reach being dead end pages echoing words written in 2010, 2011, 2012.

 I don’t want to be a reactionary person, but I think I am in this case. I look back at the past blogging times with rosy, glittery glasses and reminisce about how it was before everything got so heavily saturated by consumerism and affiliate links, and the sense that every blog should be a business.

 I don’t mind affiliate links, as long as their context is part of some kind of storytelling. There’s obviously a market for short paragraphed statements, flashy pictures of happy people brunching and ”You can find my dress here!”, but I just don’t get it.

 I understand that time moves on, that people find other things to do with their time when life gets more complicated, and that social media is just so much easier to access and make a little time for, here and there. The waning engagement and lessening of traffic may discourage bloggers from putting in time and effort into something that just isn’t gaining the traction that it did initially, and I get that. It doesn’t make me miss the old times any less, though.

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 Stubborn as I am, I’ve always been a teensy meensy blogger. People who are like ”In the beginning, I ONLY had 100 visitors a day on my blog!”. That’s my high point, man. In 2015. I don’t appeal to the general public, my wording makes my posts unsearchable and my topics only affect the few. And that’s fine with me. Writing and reading blogs is the next best thing of the internet, a close second to information searching and you know, life stuff like paying bills and communicating with friends. Without blogs, socially, there would only be the regular social media. Fast media, made to capture you for pin pricks of endorphin rushes as you scroll through endless feeds of wordless images or statements pressed into short sentences because no one cares to read text anymore*.

It’s just not for me. I’m not a perfect blog-wizard with a super regular posting schedule nor do I always perform my absolute best, but I still have the joy of blogging with me.

 I don’t really know what I’m trying to say with this post, but I’m gonna let it out there anyway. Maybe my point is just that I won’t give up, because I love it. The dorkiness of it all. Writing for writing’s sake, storytelling because storytelling is awesome. Reading because taking part of other people’s stories is great. I shout into the fancy winds that I want more of the regular people’s lives, and if you know someone who has a great blog, or if you do yourself, tell me. I want it all, to sift through and find new favourites apart from the few I have today.

 Because blogging is great, and I want more people to do it.

 *The worst of all the blogging tips that pop up now and then.

How to dye leather in 13 terrifying steps (hint, 10 are the same)

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We now have a fabulous dining room.

The realization that I CAN COLOUR LEATHER

Now, you have to put yourself into my position, and I bet you know what that position is. Yes. More colour and DIY’s for erryone!

So, imagine my excitement when I realized that there was actually a way of changing colour on the jarring white leather dining room chairs that were in my general possession.  A cold March afternoon I got searching for solutions, and I found a website selling stuff to make old colours of leather go bye-bye!

After eyeballing the entire website that was enlightening me of this magical interior decorating-unicorn I was sweating with excitement and fell all over myself out of the couch, tumbled down the stairs to the basement like an avalanche of unsure outcomes and taking risks with someone else’s possessions and after a few hasty steps over the original 1970’s snotty green patterned vinyl flooring, I flew into the cave we call an office space. I informed my partner that EITHER WE’RE GOING FAB or… he’s paying for six new comfortable dining chairs after I sort of really ruin the ones we have. Are you in?!

He, in his usual, almost uncannily positive enabler-form, gave me a thumbs up and patted me on the butt.

No misgivings? No hesitancy? Well that was far too easy! It’s like he trusts me to succeed in my endeavors? What does this mean? In my mind, all the possible dreamy DIY scenarios popped right up from Fantasy Box nr. 3 and tried to squeeze themselves into my rational, sane, held-back-horizon and oh no, this is gonna end badly.

Once I regained my bearings and had managed to return to the couch, I hovered my clickety-click over the ”Order”-button on earlier mentioned unicorn-website. Am I doing it? I am doing it. I’m gonna go out on a limb and maybe trash six perfectly functioning chairs because I can’t stand them in the deathly depressing shade of whatever terror society calls ”white”. Destroyed and brown is better than white and pristine, AMIRIGHT? Okay, so you don’t have to agree with me, but here’s how I did it anyway! Click and off the order went!

First of all, for anyone of you out there that would like to try this yourselves. The colour dubbed ”Dark Dark Brown”, wasn’t brown at all. It was a dark, dark purple. Totally in order, said the company because according to them, people usually prefer a lot of redness in their dark brown leather goods. Madness. I didn’t, and was offered to send the bottle back (even though I’d used it a little to sample) and get a new, cooler, less red one called ”Dark Brown” sent to me instead. And might I say, Dark Brown is well, dark brown. DIY saved!

Prep work

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Starting off with white chairs that didn’t mesh with the moody, sultry dining room at all.

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The magic! Okay, so I realized afterwards that I didn’t need the Ultra Clean nor the Protection Cream, but I’m sure I can use them later on for something else.

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Leather supplies, an old broken sock cut into three for the cleaning steps (the cloth bled pink so I didn’t use that one), a work space consisting of the floor with some cardboard, as usual…, and a packet of gloves because once you drop one of those boxes on the floor at a tattoo shop, it’s either the garbage or it’s going home with you to serve it’s lifetime with dyeing hair or cleaning stuff, and not being around people’s freshly made tattoos.

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The first phase of cleaning was SO SATISFYING.

Scrubbing six chairs with two cleaning agents wasn’t the most fun I’ve ever had, but hey. I felt safe, it was going well, the white colour rubbed off on my cleaning sock as they mentioned on the website. Things were going well. Maybe I’m not gonna mess this up?! There are different kinds of leather and different types of faux leather, all which can be dyed this way, but they have different cleaning needs. I wasn’t too sure so I chanced it a little, *ahem*, but it turned out right!

The dyeing

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The first layer went on… like this. Oh shit. I’ve ruined the chair. This is NEVER GONNA work! Cue me, sipping coffee, staring at the horrible chair. An electrician peeped in to tell me something, looked at the chair, didn’t mention it and kept on working. Yeah. I’m screwed. Now we have to sell five perfectly fine chairs with an sixth ugly cousin added for free. Dangit! But the website did say not to try and make the first layer even, so yeah no that’s not gonna happen even if I did try so…

Now it’s too late, might as well continue, right?

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Layer three and two. Oh, okay… So there’s hope right?

Now, I am gonna add that the company recommends using a sponge for the first and second layer, and then airbrushing the colour on until satisfied. I do not have an airbrush-thingie, so.. I sponged it all the way. In hindsight, I’d say that if you are gonna dye large areas of leather, get an airbrush. Just do it.

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Here we’re into layers four and five I think. Three? I’m not sure. There were soo many layers.

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Neeeveereeending stoooory, aah aah aahh aaaaaah.

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Layers seven? Eight? Even the owl I caught peeping was doubting that this would ever be finished.

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But then! After sponging on ten, yes, ten layers, they all looked like this! The dye itself is a little sticky, so I wouldn’t recommend doing it over the span of a couple of days like I did, because dust and lint gets stuck on the surface and.. yeah, well, it’s in there forever now. Summary: Get a fricking airbrush and just sweep over it all, man.

Altough, I’m always more keen to approve of a little faulty things made by me, so I don’t mind it that much. The imperfections and all that. They’re fine even though I may have wanted it perfect.

After the dye layers, you need to put on a leather finish, that are available in shiny as fuck, satin softness and matte dusty desert. I chose the satin variety.

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So, being without an airbrush, I brushed the finish on. I tried getting it a little thicker on there with the brush and I did three layers to really make it solid and be able to hold hopefully for years and years to come. I tried making it all even and I checked before it dried if it looked okay, which it did. But as you can see, the finish is really uneven, and it’s apparent in most lights. So I would reallllly recommend using an airbrush for ALL OF IT. But hey, done is done, and I’m pleased anyways. And, I’ve learned a whole lot on dyeing/painting leather!

Would totally do again with the lessons in mind. I give myself a… 4/5, one point extra for bravery.

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Now I have a much nicer view into the dining room from the sofa! Yay!

Winter's back, dangit

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Residing in the freshly sorted dining room, I stare out the window. The grey blanket of clouds outside bathes the room in cold, stingy light. Beyond the window glass, in the flattened, sad looking greyish brown garden about a 1000 chaffinches are wandering about, looking for food by promenading over the lawn and turning leaves. Some get the luxury of catching the few bugs that have regrettably managed to crawl their way up into the surprising cold that this mid-April Sweden has to offer.

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The weather reports are alluring, tempting, with the ample temperature of ”Just around freezing” the coming six days, without as much as a hint of that long wished for warm, soothing sunlight. One of my gently cared for cucumber plants have already frozen on the patio. I can admit that my attempts of keeping the patio at about +15C with the help of a heating fan has failed because the icy gale celebrates the coming of “spring” by refusing to relinquish any of its powers. I haven’t totally failed because even when it was a bit below freezing out, the patio kept a temperature of +10C. But this is, of course, way too cold for cucumber plants, dangit...

I feel like wandering out on the lawn, getting on my knees and, with fists turned to the dark sky, beg it to forsake it’s cold grasp and let us gently into the spring season. I mean, the lawn had JUST gotten rid of the last remnants of the thigh-deep snow and now snow is flaking down from the skies in true guy-in-the-grocerystore-queue-that-scrathes-his-scalp-that-tad-too-much-manner.

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I guess that images of wonderful, messy times (aka, last week) on the patio will have to do, while we hold our breath for spring.

Needless to say, I am not pleased. Last year we went from winter to summer in a week, it was all very confusing and very much Monty Pythonesque. And while I do love Monty Python, I prefer my seasons a little more… balanced and predictable. But now I’m being silly, what’s more predictable than a fucking freezing April in Sweden? Nothing really. Do you know who the original April fools are? Lemme tell you. Swedes believing that they can go outside in thin jean jackets and those fancy new vans they’ve excitedly bought in anticipation of warmer weather, just because it’s hot and sunny a random April Tuesday. They’re the fools. Year after year they do it. And year after year, they get caught in the literal ice cold realization, as the sun is starting to set, that it was all an illusion, a prank made by nature and the sun in a devious, probably very entertaining, scheme.

Now, the reason for my moaning is of course the fact that I filled all my windows with little plants that then needed bigger pots and then all of a sudden, I had too much plants and too few windows, so out on the patio they had to go, especially since I need to start planting the next generation of seeds that demand their space in said windows. You could say I should have foreseen this event, but sometimes I like just living in denial, okay? I’ll solve it till next year (okay so I probably won’t, but just let me live a little!).

Because, even if I’m not one to wear a jean jacket until the end of May, I am too a forever hopeful April’s fool.

 

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Going full Goldmember

It’s been quiet for a little while on my little space in... the web space. I could claim that I’ve been doing anything much but I’ve mostly just painted stuff, anything I could get my hands on in the shade of silver or white, really. Oh, and I’ve been spending wayyy too much time with electricians because we’re SAVING US FROM TERRIBLE DEATHS AND FIRES, shortly speaking.

We can just condense the last few weeks experience into a sigh of relief and an older man saying “Oh damn, I have to tell the owner about this” while stomping down the stairs. DON’T YOU COME DOWN THE STAIRS AND TELL ME ABOUT ANOTHER FIRE HAZARD, SHERYL. Okay, so it was less of a fire hazard and more of a “You’re fucking lucky to be alive” kind of situation this time, very well then. And also, my little statement in the last post about not actually touching electrical things because they’re not for us DIA’ers still holds true, because if an actual electrician tells you to hold something or to shove cables into a little pipe in the wall, it’s okay to do it.

But hey, it’s nice having a house, that’s bleeding money and could be considered fatal at times. It is. I mean. It is. Yeah. It is.

Moving on.

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Speaking of DIA’ers, I’m coming to you with half of what I’ve actually been doing on my off-electrician time since we spoke last. I don’t know about you, but at least I am a person that wants to banish pretty much everything in silver from my life, and replace it with gold. That’s right. The last few weeks, I’ve gone full Goldmember, and I’m not even done yet.

You know how it goes; I got a hold of that bottle of golden paint and just sort of swiped random things throughout the house and made them sparkle in the dazzle of sunlight. At least that rough concrete-dust-soot corner in the horror room now shines bright like the sun. Gold has never hurt anyone, right!

It all started with a lamp that my partner brought with him into our mutual home. He did wish it was gold instead of the shiny silver hue that it had, and the expression on his face when I told him that there’s actually a golden version of it… It’s just not available at our little Ikea, because almost nothing is. When we visited an Ikea in a larger town an hour away, we stared at like 24 of them. Lined up, almost just to spite him. “I can paint it, but it won’t look like that”, I said and pointed at the chromey shiney deliciousness of the golden lamps. He hissed “Do it, we already have it!” and started looking at something that didn’t offend him instead.

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The main offender 

Yes, I changed the white lamp shade to a beige one (huge surprise!), and I am gonna paint the rest of the cord. I just need the useless months before I get my hand out of my ass and do it. You know the drill.

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Then there were those baroquey candle holders that I bought for a surprising low sum ten years ago. I’ve always liked them, but also kind of thought they needed some sprucing up. Oh! Look! I have some leftover golden paint on my brush, whoops, just so happened to swipe it across my candle holders!

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 Look at that enhancement! It’s fit for a porn site ad, but without making outrageous claims!

And then, my friends, then there were the silvery huge candle sticks that my partner brought with him. I’m so fortunate that he wants to banish all the damn silver he brought into my life, geesh. With these, I tried something new. Something different. Something in a spray can. Yes. I dared sacrifice my partner’s candle holders to take my goldspray-virginity. Just for him. *cough*And hey, it’s not perfect, there’s bits of silver peeping through and I sort of sprayed dust into place (no one told me I had to dust off the tops between sprayings, how could I possibly know that a room made of crumbling plaster would dust my stuff!), but if you don’t look very closely, or squint a lot, they almost look like they ARE perfect! Good enough for this DIA’er!

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Much like missing a before picture of the now golden lamp, this was the only picture I could find that has the silvery thingies in them, because I really need to start taking pictures of things I don’t like very much as well.

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Next up is a bunch of cords, maybe some pipes and the chrome legs of the dining chairs I coloured… lemme tell you about the chairs a little later.

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Managing my obsessive planting in GoodNotes (4)

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As I’ve said before, when I turned to the dark side and ordered my iPad, I wished that it would come into sooo much use that I wouldn’t regret or angst over the amount of money spent on a tech thingie when I already had other tech thingies. But seriously, together with and thanks to, Goodnotes, it’s the best tool I’ve ever had. I never type on the iPad, nor edit pictures, but I do sooo many other things.

One of them is to keep track of what I’m actually doing in life. School, calendar, lists, information and slips I may need in the future that WILL get lost in the vast expanses of our house (JK, I can lose things on a dime), recipes I want to try and recipes I’ve tweaked to my liking, house things, and... the plant things. Having bought an overwhelming amount of seeds that needs categorizing into each of their month of planting, ways of planting, where they should be located later on etc, and of course the instructions on the packets is good to save for a forgetful seagull like me.

So what does an avid user of GoodNotes do? Start a new notebook of course, complete with a front cover. As you can see down below, not all of my books have covers yet, but I am working on it (in ProCreate on my pad, lavv it)!

I’m still using GoodNotes 4 because the 5th version messed with my documents, so I’m just waiting that out for a while longer.

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One of the things I like, and prefer in the 4th over the 5th version, is that the document pages previews three in a row, instead of four. It’s easier to see what kind of pages I’m looking for when they’re bigger in size. Although, you can opt for adding bookmarks which is really handy when having lots of similar looking pages close to another, making the thumbnails harder to see what you’re looking for, but that is an extra step and you have to add them all yourself.

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I used a simple gridded A4 paper in the GoodNotes (Version 5 has dotted too!) to make a chart of the plants and their schedules. I just used the geometric… button, and lined it all directly in GoodNotes, and then copied it for further use. Preferred months to be planted in brown, pink flowering times, and green harvesting times for edibles.

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I made a chart for where the plants will like spending their time, just to get an overview of what I need to regard when planning the garden. From the top; just outdoors, warm locations/half way sheltered, and then green house. From the left to the right; Sunny, half way shade and shade. And no, I’m not surprised that no plants want to lounge in shady green houses. But hey! In the future, maybe some plants will fit in that category, ey?

I also made small notations about the life span of the plants so I can hopefully make less terrible decisions when it’s time to shove them out into the world. I don’t want to have to dig up plants next year because I’m stupid, not in control of anything and/or forgetful.

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And here you have an example of the specific plant pages. The ones I could find of the internet, I added from there. The ones that I couldn’t find, I photographed and added instead. We’ll see how I like it and keep up with it! I forget so much from year to year so I think it’s gonna do me good to save stuff…

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In conclusion; without the pen, the iPad would be just another random tech thing for me. With the pen, it’s the most awesome tool to do almost anything. We’ll see how long I’ll keep on with GoodNotes 4 instead of the 5th, and if this actually makes me keep track of my shit.

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How to do DIY yourself! (yes, it's supposed to be read that way)

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If you’re anything like me, you’re a stubborn, home-decorating DIYer with a flair for the fun instead of the fancy. Aka, you persist on focusing on projects that are bordering on or hover just above your general level of knowledge, skill and for the most part, laziness, and just DO IT ANYWAY.

Maybe I should call it ”DIAer”…

Because even if the simple spice rack is built from like eight bits of wood that have just been sawed off right in the middle, they’re still not equally long, straight, nor even. The thing didn’t even fit right but I... made it fit. Hehehe. *whirrs electrical screwdriver and winks* One shelf leans outwards (I have no idea why) so it’s just a matter of time before the salt and pepper grinder starts sliding closer to its sudden doom. But, if that happens, I’ll just nail a little wood strip there and TADA, problem solved and the spice rack is back to fucking PERFECT again.

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Don’t let anyone fool you. The kitchen table is a perfectly suitable spice rack until YOU say otherwise!

So hey! Here’s my guide how YOU can be as awesome as me in doing home projects and get pleased enough by the result that you’re inclined to make tutorials on the internet!  

1. Wander about your own home, stare at sections of it and feel slight feelings of discontentment. Or get angry with messes and stuff that has no homes, that’s the most efficient one.

2. Research what you want instead. Dream big, gurl! Do you want to paint your entire bedroom a forest green and place build storage perfectly adapted to your needs and add copper piping just because it’s pretty? Save that shit in your inspiration folder. The things you do later on may look nothing like it, but NO ONE CAN STEAL YOUR DREAMS! 

3. Make an actual plan of what needs to be done. Measurements of the place of project, its needs, your needs, prep work, materials, how you like it to be, where you can shortcut the shit out of it (this is important for us lazy people). 

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The importance of having a proper place to DIY is just propaganda from the workbench lobby, I swear.

4.  Invest in or gather all that paraphernalia that you need for your project to go through. I would say that good quality tools are a great way to start, but that makes me sound like some kind of professional person and we don’t want that!

5. This is the most important step; Lower your standards. I know, I know, but the rule of not lowering your standards cannot apply to DIY’s because even the most skilled ones that make magical things the general public drops their coffee cups in awe over, are displeased afterwards. Yes, we’re JUST LIKE the awesome ones! We can do it (on our level)!

6. Do it. Make it. Swear over it. Shove that shit together even though it’s not really fitting together anymore and you don’t understand why. If needed, use screws and glue and tape and industrial straps. If being reaaally careful and finicky isn’t really your thing, just wing it when it feels good! It’s all fine! 

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Some say that need is the mother of invention, but
one should not underestimate the importance of laziness.

7. Fasten your stuff properly; you don’t want your projects to meet their doom in loose screws getting detached from the wall. If anything, they’re gonna end their lives by you getting fed up with them. Install that marvel and finish it off, don’t leave half assed projects lying around. What? What’s in the corner? Oh it’s just the drawers I’m supposed to assemble… later. All those framed pictures on the floor? They’re going up… soon. Hm, what? Oh, that’s just boxes of stuff we’re donating.. shortly.

8. Enjoy your work of DIA-art and use the hell out of it! It’s AWESOME! YOU MADE IT! Yeah, so I COULD BUY a spice rack but why would I want to when I could make it myself and get it… well not exactly as I wanted it, but pretty dang close because everything I make myself automatically gets added awesomeness and forgiveness, and also I lowered my standard! 

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9. Post that piece of wonder on the internet. The internet needs more pleasantly passable DIY’s, more tolerable storage solutions, more decent interior home projects of the ”not bad” persuasion.

10. And don’t let anyone convince you otherwise!

(11.) And keep the fuck away from plumbing and electricity; we're not made for that.

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