Sunday, 26 July 2015

My Very First Plant: A Fittonia Pot

Hi! Thanks for stopping by again to my blog! I just bought a plant for my room and I am so excited to share it with you! 

There are several stepping stones in a person's life when it comes to caring for things, particularly living things. First, you get a plant and learn not to kill it, next you get a pet (We once had a family pet goldfishes, which sadly fell sick and all died), and then you take care of a child. Caring for a baby is scary, and it feels like a big responsibility, one that you can't really walk away from or give up when the going gets tough, and that is why I wanted to start small! A plant is a great place to start! Plus it helps add a dash of greenery to my room. :) 


I bought my plant from Flower Matters located at Alexandra Retail Centre. It costs $20, which was considerably more expensive than those the succulents from Ikea which was recommended to me. Succulents from Ikea cost $2.90 each. The downside about getting plants from Ikea is that most of them are abused by the shoppers. I feel so sad when I visited the plant section. 


I am pleased with my pot though, and do not mind the price. It has a nice glass pot, and some decorative stones and even a little cat figurine which I took out because I wanted to keep things simple. I was told how to care for it by the friendly florists, and my pot was wrapped up and ready to go. (Ikea doesn't provide bags for your purchase, by the way. Try carrying small pots home without a bag. :( ) Most importantly, I was able to get the name of the plant, which means I can google and check out what others had said about the plant! We all know how important google is. 


This is Fittonia, otherwise also called, Nerve Plant. It thrives in indirect light, and if it is placed in the sun, it'll get burnt. Which makes it a good indoor plant! Fittonia likes water and humidity, but too much water and humidity attracts insects. So let the soil dry to one quarter of the pot before you water it again. 


I used a satay stick to test for the dampness of the soil. The part where the soil sticks to the stick, means that it is damp. Here you can see that the soil is 3/4 damp. The florist taught me this. Rather handy. 


Another photo of the plant. It is small, the pot is about the size of my palm.


My plant is doing well, and I am pleased that to have it in my room! It adds a little life and energy, I think. It sits in a shady area near my window that never gets direct sunlight. I did purchase 2 small pots of succulents from Ikea, which I repotted into a nice glass mug. Unfortunately, I underestimated the skill needed to repot them, so... one of them is a little droopy. I am still waiting on it to see if they will do well. 

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Do you have any plants in your room? Have you tried your hand at gardening before? Let me know what you think about plants in the house! 

Have a great Sunday and thanks for reading! :)

Love, 
Jennifer

Sunday, 19 July 2015

The Low-Down on Brush Lettering

Hi! Happy Sunday! I seem to be taking till Sunday to post on my blog. Procrastination isn't a very nice thing. I am more present on my Instagram than my Blog, so you might want to follow me here

There seems to be a recent revival in brush-lettering, or that's what I call it when I found something new and suddenly it is appearing everywhere around me and in my Instagram feed. Brush-lettering has a much lower point of entry than calligraphy, and is easier to learn too. Those who want to learn calligraphy might profit from learning brush-lettering before or alongside calligraphy too. That's what I did. 

And that is the topic of today's post: the low-down on brush-lettering. 


 Brush-lettering is written with (no points there if you guess it correctly) brush markers or paint brushes and paint. I find the results less refined than calligraphy, because of the thin hairlines that you can get with a pen nib. But learning calligraphy is a long arduous journey, and brush-lettering might break you in because brush-lettering and calligraphy both have similar way of writing: press down to get thicker lines when it is a downstroke, and lift up to get thinner lines when it is an upstroke.

Since brush-lettering uses the same movements as calligraphy, beginner calligraphy learners might want to start building muscle memory with brush-lettering.


I used three different brush markers for the first photo: a dual brush pen that has a real brush on one side (black), Zig Letter Pen Cocoiro (maroon) and Tombow Dual Brush Marker (blue).  The above photo is are the pens I named, starting with Tombow on the top. You can see the different brushes each marker has.

The type brush is important when you just calligraphy. A harder brush tip, like Zig Cocoiro, makes it easier to control the movements. So I wouldn't recommend using a real brush marker, as it is extremely flexible, which makes it harder to control the writing. Tombow Dual Brush Marker is really good for beginners, and most brush letterers use it.



If you don't want to invest in brush markers, but want to make use of the items you already have at home, you can easily pick up brush-lettering with paintbrushes and paints. I don't often use my paintbrushes for this, since I find brush markers more convenient- no messing around with paints, after all. But you can achieve the same effect with brushes. The theory is the same. Thick downstrokes, thin upstrokes.

I tried to show the different types of brushes and how they differ in the results. Filbert brushes may be easiest if you are beginning, because it has a shorter brush, and it picks up enough paint to make the results bold. A small round brush means tinier writing.


I would like to elaborate more on Tombow Dual Brush Markers. The above photo is made using Tombow. What I'm trying to show you is that you can blend the colors together so that the color of the words changes halfway. It is more obvious in the red-orange, dark blue-light blue, deep purple-light purple combination. The yellow didn't really show up well. I have seen really good color-blending techniques with these markers, and they are beautiful! You will definitely want to change them out when you buy these markers.

I use Tombows for coloring as well. I did a mini comparison of Tombow coloring with different coloring mediums, check out the post here. While Tombow didn't win in the end, I think it is good for those who only wanted to invest in one coloring tool. Not everyone wants five different kinds of markers, do they? ;)

For more techniques on picking up Brush Lettering, I'll leave it up to the professionals, like PiecesCalligraphy. You can read up her posts on How to hold the brush calligraphy pen, or Improve your brush calligraphy. She is really good at brush lettering/calligraphy, and has plenty of useful posts on it on her blog.

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I hope you find this post useful! :)

Have fun lettering! Thanks for reading!

Love, Jennifer

Saturday, 11 July 2015

To Knit or Not To Knit A Scarf

Hi, I'm back with another knitting post! As I explore the world of knitting further and read more knitting blogs and magazines, I realised that there are so much to everything. Even the smallest thing like whether or not a beginner knitting should knit a scarf as a first project (as opposed to making small items like washcloth, beanies and socks) received much debate and contemplation. So as a (not so) newbie knitter, I decided to put in my two cents worth too.


I knitted a scarf for my first project. It was a scarf that was never meant to be worn, knitted with 4mm bamboo needles and cheap acrylic yarn. It allowed me to learn many things along the way, like how to fix my mistakes and how to pick up dropped yarn after ripping rows. I learned how to cast on and off, and practise plenty of the basic knit stitch. My scarf was striped bold blue and yellow, so I learned to change yarn colors. And the most dreaded knitting necessity: weaving in the ends. I learned all those skills through my first scarf. 

I think there are pros and cons for a beginner knitter to knitting a scarf. As I mentioned above, a knitter can practise basic knitting skills on a scarf, especially learning to recognise and differentiate between stitches (eg. knit and purl stitches). A smaller knit would mean a shorter knitting time, and that usually doesn't allow any time for me make mistakes, or learn from them. A scarf takes at least 100 hours for me to finish, enough time for me to internalise whichever stitch I am knitting. 


However, some people may find a scarf too tedious and monotonous for a novice, since it takes a long time to complete. They recommend making plenty of dishcloths/washcloths (which is practical to use as well) in many different patterns (good for learning new techniques too), or hats and socks and leg warmers, using circular needles or double pointed needles (I personally find DPNs annoying). 

Knitting a scarf takes a long time to complete, which means that while you are knitting at the same speed as another person who is knitting smaller projects, the other person may learn more techniques and skills as you, even though the hours that both of you put into knitting are the same. 

They say half the excitement in knitting is in casting on a new project! That is true! 


I like knitting scarves, because it is rhythmic and it gives me some peace and quiet. I have been getting nightmares for consecutive nights recently and it is really disrupting my rest. I find that I sleep better (I still dream, but the dreams are less horrifying) if I knit for a few hours before bed. 

I do keep a few projects on the side while I knit my scarf. I made coasters and bunny clothes and tried beanies. I started knitting a sock but I hated it and gave it up. I discovered that I like making up my own patterns on the go. 

To Knit or Not To Knit a Scarf for your first project: 

Pros: 
Good for practising basic techniques 
A scarf is really usable 
It is rhythmic and relaxing (esp. something simple like knit stitch)

Cons: 
It takes too many hours and may be boring to a novice.
It is a repetition of the same skill set and no new techniques are learned, despite the long hours. 

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I think that there are good and bad about knitting a scarf for a beginner knitter. You can choose what you knit as a beginner project, as long as you remember that you can always put down the scarf and start on another project and come back to the scarf later! 

Share with me what's the first thing you knitted! ;) Did you choose to knit a scarf too? 

Thanks for reading! 
Love,
Jennifer

Monday, 6 July 2015

3 Things I Have Learnt Since I Started Calligraphy

Hi! I'm back with another post, this time on Calligraphy! 

I haven't been doing calligraphy for long at all; it's slightly less than three months since I first picked up my first dip pen. I picked up the interest after Kristina Werner started doing brush lettering on her instagram (you can click the link and look at her lettering), and very soon found another Lindsey at ThePostman'sKnock (I have linked to her blog) who does amazing artworks as well as calligraphy and lettering. Nowadays, Instagram is where I look for inspiration as well as staying on top of new things/events that are happening. :) 

So, I've decided to share 3 things I've learnt since I started calligraphy: 


I've decided to share some things I've learnt since I picked up my dip pen. Although I do have interest in a varied number of hobbies, it fascinates me just how much I learned and how much I am able to achieve with each hobby that I pick up. A person never stops learning, and I intend to expand my knowledge even as I grow older. Stagnancy scares me a little, truthfully. 

I've learnt more of the history of Calligraphy, that there are many different kinds of Calligraphy, how I can apply them in my daily life. I know more about inks and pigments and how they are made... 

I won't talk about those in this post because I wanted to share my personal experiences with you- of things I've realised since I began on this journey. So if you are interested in trying out calligraphy, you may want to read on! :)


Quality Supplies do make a Difference
You may think that since it is only a hobby, that you are only testing the waters, so there is no need to invest in them. You may want to buy the cheapest supplies there are, in order to save your wallet just in case you decide that the hobby is not for you. 

In truth, the quality of your supplies may affect the outcome, especially when it comes to calligraphy. Inks and papers used for calligraphy is much more sensitive, and will affect your writing. Find good quality paper (70lb and above, smooth) as well as proper calligraphy inks (try some non-waterproof ones first) to save yourself the trouble of watching the ink spread from your writing. 

When it comes to pen holders, straight pen holders are easier to find than oblique pen holders. However, it is easier to write with a slant when using oblique. Personally, I haven't picked up my straight holders since I got my oblique! Everytime I use a straight holder I feel like I am spraining my wrist. Because there is a science to the angle and slant of the nib to the paper, it is generally advised to invest in a good quality oblique pen holder than the cheap speedball oblique that so many beginner calligraphers bought and could not writing well with it. 

Buy quality materials, and if you decide you don't like calligraphy, pass your supplies on to someone else who wants to give it a try.


Calligraphy is not as easy as it looks
Nothing is actually as easy as it first looks. Those pretty paintings/cakes/calligraphy/craft shown on Instagram only show the final version after hours of practise. Those calligraphy videos are also (usually) sped up. Calligraphy is intended to be written slowly and with precision. It is art.

Practise, practise and practise some more. Have plenty of patience. Do your drills. Some calligraphers continue doing their drills even though they have been writing for years. I am currently participating in a Calligraphy Bootcamp on Instagram. It really helps me get my strokes right. 

Just know that slow and steady is the way to go when it comes to calligraphy. 


Most of all, have plenty of FUN!!
Sometimes my hand hurts after an hour or two of writing because holding a dip pen is not the same as holding a normal pen. Sometimes I spill ink all over and get my fingers stained. Sometimes no matter how hard I try, I just couldn't get my alphabets to look nice. Sometimes writing is just plain frustrating. 

When that happens, I'd put my calligraphy aside. I tell myself that calligraphy is a hobby, and if I force myself to do it, it won't be my happy thing anymore. 

I write for fun. I look for things I love that I can practise my writing with. I look up quotes, song lyrics, books, films and poetry. But most of all, I don't let it become a chore that I dread, something that I have to do because I had to. I have fun. 

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So here's 3 things I have learnt since I began my calligraphy journey. If you're just starting calligraphy or considering it as a hobby, I hope I gave you some food for thought. It really feels very different to be writing with a dip pen in an age dominated by keyboard and ballpoint pens. I feel connected to the past, that there is a window that allows me to look back into our history. 

Share with me what lessons you've learnt since you began calligraphy, newbies or not! I'm always interested to hear about your experiences! :)

Have fun writing! And thanks for reading! 

Love,
Jennifer

Wednesday, 1 July 2015

Hobonichi Review


 Hi, thanks for stopping by! I missed last week's post and I'm making it up with a Hobonichi Review now, and hopefully another post later this week.

Written with Zig Cocoiro Lettering Pen

I only just stumbled upon Hobonichi several months ago, and bought my journals nearly two months ago. I have been using it religiously everyday, and I am proud to say I am a convert!


I bought the A6 and A5 size journals and covers, with 2 plastic cover protector to go along with it. The A5 Cousin is in japanese, but I got the english version for the A6, although frankly speaking, I don't really flipped through the journal to read it much because I just use it as a food diary. The english translated version is more expensive than the japanese version. 


Here you can see how the journal is fitted into the cover, and how the plastic cover fits as well. This is the A6 version. Did I mention that each cover is handsewn individually? And I like the feel of the fabric. I don't keep much things slotted into the card slots, so these are empty for now. 

Monthly over 2 pages

Each journal comes with a monthly and a daily. The A5 journal has a weekly spread too. Which is why I prefer the A5. I like my notebooks as big as possible, with as much space available to record as many things as I want to. 

One Day Per Page.
What I love most about this is the Daily portion of the journal. I was worried that the grid will interfere with my writing, that I'll have to stick to the grids, but the lines are not very dark and obvious. Which is why so many people are able to use these journals as a sketchbook! 

Weeklies, only available in A5. 
I use the weeklies to record what I did over the week, as well as events. I'm not sure why these aren't available in the A6 version. It's such a pity. 

A look from the side. 
The Hobonichis are not very thick, even though it has plenty of pages. The pages are designed to be thin but of quality, and I often use markers without plenty of seepage. I even tried using a dip pen on it, and it turns out wonderfully! 

A note of caution though, if you're like me and pressed very hard when you write, you should invest in a pencil board, or place a hard cardboard under the paper before you write so that you won't leave impressions on the next page. I couldn't be bothered with the hassle so I left it alone. 

The book lies flat.
Another impressive thing about the Hobonichi is that it lies flat when you open it! No more battling with the notebooks anymore when you write! I may love this function most of all! 

I ordered my notebooks from the Hobonichi store itself. It's about $150 in total, I'm not sure about the exact amount. But it's worth the money so I don't mind paying a lot for it. ;)

There are plenty of ways to use the journal! I like to google Hobonichi and look at how the others use their book! There are so many beautiful pages out there! It doesn't need to be limited to just being a journal or a planner! 

Are you currently using a Hobonichi? Do share with me what you use your Hobonichi for? I'd love to hear from you! Or are you interested in getting/trying out one? Tell me what you love most about the Hobonichi! 

Thanks for reading,

Love,
Jennifer